Joe Horn, 61, spotted two burglars breaking into his next-door neighbor's home in Pasadena, Texas. He called 9-1-1 to summon police to the scene. While on the phone with emergency dispatch, Horn stated that he had the right to use deadly force to defend property, referring to a law (Texas Penal Code §§ 9.41, 9.42, and 9.43) which justified the use of deadly force to protect Horn's home. Horn exited his home with his shotgun, while the 9-1-1 operator tried to dissuade him from that action. On the 9-1-1 tape, he is heard confronting the suspects, saying, "Move, and you're dead",immediately followed by the sound of a shotgun blast, followed by two more. Following the shootings Mr. Horn told the 9-1-1 operator, "They came in the front yard with me, man, I had no choice!"
Police initially identified the dead men in Horn's yard as 38-year-old Miguel Antonio DeJesus and Diego Ortiz, 30, both residents of Houston, and of Afro-Latino descent. However, DeJesus was actually an alias of an individual named Hernando Riascos Torres. Torres and Ortiz were carrying a sack with cash and jewelry taken from the home next door to Joe Horn. Both were criminals from Colombia who had been convicted on drug trafficking charges. Police found a Puerto Rican identification card on Ortiz. Torres had three identification cards from Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, and had been previously sent to prison for dealing cocaine. Torres had been deported in 1999.
A plain clothes police detective responding to the 9-1-1 call arrived at the scene before the shooting, and witnessed the escalation and shootings while remaining in his car. His report on the incident indicated that the men who were killed "received gunfire from the rear". Police Capt. A.H. Corbett stated the two men ignored Mr. Horn's order to freeze and that one of the suspects ran towards Joe Horn before angling away from Horn toward the street when the suspect was shot in the back. The medical examiner's report could not specify whether they were shot in the back due to the ballistics of the shotgun wound. Pasadena police confirmed that the two men were shot after they ventured into Horn's front yard. The detective did not arrest Horn.
The incident touched off protests, led by Quanell X, leader of the Houston chapter of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) that were met by counter-protests from Horn's neighbors and other supporters.
One vital piece of evidence were segments of Mr. Horn’s 9-1-1 calls which could have possibly incriminated Mr. Horn or shown his innocence. The most scrutinized segment is presented below:
Joe Horn: “I’ve got a shotgun; do you want me to stop them?”
The Pasadena emergency operator responded: “Nope. Don’t do that. Ain’t no property worth shooting somebody over, O.K.?”
Mr. Horn said: “But hurry up, man. Catch these guys will you? Cause, I ain’t going to let them go.”
Mr. Horn then said he would get his shotgun.
The operator said, “No, no.” But Mr. Horn said: “I can’t take a chance of getting killed over this, O.K.? I’m going to shoot.”
The operator told him not to go out with a gun because officers would be arriving.
“O.K.,” Mr. Horn said. “But I have a right to protect myself too, sir,” adding, “The laws have been changed in this country since September the first, and you know it.”
The operator said, “You’re going to get yourself shot.” But Mr. Horn replied, “You want to make a bet? I’m going to kill them.”
Moments later he said, “Well here it goes, buddy. You hear the shotgun clicking and I’m going.”
Then he said: “Move, you’re dead.”
There were two quick gunshots, then a third.
“I had no choice,” Mr. Horn said when he got back on the line with the dispatcher. “They came in the front yard with me, man.”
The 9-1-1 call ended about 80 seconds after the shots were fired, when officers arrived on the scene.