Joe Campo Torres

By Robert Owers
December 2006

The brutal murder of Joe Campo Torres in Houston, TX, was the catalyst for the 1978 Moody Park riot in that city.On May 7, 1977, Torres was beaten by Houston police and then drowned in the Buffalo Bayou.One year after his death, demonstrators with a group called People United to Fight Police Brutality were in Moody Park calling for justice in the case when they clashed with a Cinco de Mayo celebration, and a riot broke out. The riot injured about fifteen people, including some police officers and two reporters.” (Anonymous, 2001)

The incident was one in a string of alleged police brutality by the Houston PD, and specifically involving Hispanic victims.The officers involved were found guilty, but given only a suspended sentence. However, “Justice Department attorneys, in an unprecedented action, appealed the probation sentence, arguing that some prison term must be served” (Anonymous, 1979) Ruben Bonilla, president of the organization LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), declared the trial and sentencing of the case an injustice, even demanding the impeachment of the judge.


Anonymous, (12 October 2001). A shining political hero, a shocking murder case. Houston Chronicle, Retrieved 10 December 2006, from

Anonymous, (2 November 1979). Houston Ex-Police Resentenced. World News Digest, Retrieved 11 December 2006, from