Grand jury clears Forest Hill officers in man's death

Posted Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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A Tarrant County grand jury chose not to issue an indictment in the death of Derrick Birdow, who died in Forest Hill police custody following the beating death of a popular pastor.

The grand jury on Tuesday heard evidence about the circumstances of Birdow's death, said Melody McDonald, a district attorney's spokeswoman. The decision against indictment concludes the inquiry.

Birdow crashed his car into Greater Sweethome Missionary Baptist Church on Oct. 29, then attacked the Rev. Danny Kirk Sr. and a janitor, police said.

Responding officers encountered Birdow while preparing to enter the church, then chased him inside, where they found him striking Kirk with an electric guitar. When Birdow refused their commands to stop, officers shocked him with a Taser and eventually handcuffed him.

He had to be carried out to a patrol car and was later found not breathing when medics went to check on him, police have said.

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office ruled that Birdow died from PCP ingestion and that the Taser did not contribute to his death.

In February, a review by the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department found that Forest Hill police officers acted reasonably and within policy and the law in detaining Birdow.

This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Alex Branch, 817-390-7689

Twitter: @albranch1

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