Photo: Sheriff’s deputy Renard Spivey (Left) and his wife Patricia Ann Marshall Spivey (Right) who he murdered on Monday.
By Jennifer Kelly
Renard Spivey, a Harris County sheriff’s deputy, was booked Monday night for the murder of his wife, Patricia Ann Marshall Spivey, adding to a long list of police-perpetrated cases of violence against women in the US.
Initially, Spivey called 911 to report that both he and his wife had accidentally been shot during a struggle, but evidence collected at the scene – two bullet wounds in Patricia, one in her arm and one in her heart, and the bruises found on her wrists- brought his story into question.
Leading up to the murder, the couple had been fighting for hours, with Patricia accusing the deputy, who was an award winning weightlifter, of either abusing steroids again or cheating on her. Patricia’s brother, Ezra Washington, told police that he had talked on the phone to the deputy three times leading up to the shooting. During those conversations Renard said to him “[Patricia is going to make me] rise up like the Incredible Hulk and it ain’t gonna be good.”
Initial reports before his arrest were careful to give cover to the officer, using misleading headlines such as “Deputy Who Plays Bailiff on Courtroom TV Show Hurt in Weekend Shooting That Killed His Wife,” twisting the event to make them appear to be mutual victims of violence from a third party.
In a message on their website, the Sheriff’s office was quick to be quoted after his arrest, saying “While the facts of this specific case will be determined by a jury, I encourage all victims of domestic violence to seek assistance from law enforcement and others whom they trust.” Yet these words ring hollow in the face of overwhelming domestic violence statistics where the abusers and assailants are police officers and the victims are women.
Not only are domestic violence rates high among families of police officers (at least 40% as opposed to 10% percent among the general population), but allegations against them are often suppressed or covered up by the departments they work for.
Even if Patricia had turned to the police, it is unlikely anything would have been done. In Chicago, in 9 out of 10 cases, no action is taken when an officer is accused of domestic violence. One officer in San Antonio managed to keep his license after assaulting his wife and holding their children at gunpoint. He received only a class C misdemeanor and a $100 fine.
This is not the first time this year that a woman has been murdered in Houston by her police officer husband; school librarian Belinda Hernandez was murdered on March 23 by her husband Hilario Hernandez, a sergeant in the Houston Police Department. Her daughter said that the sergeant became angry when he believed Belinda had been flirting with another man.
Patricia’s cause of death is not uncommon. About half of women shot to death in the US are killed by their partners. Domestic violence should be understood fundamentally as violence against women, and it is a problem that cannot be solved by police, who themselves perpetrate it in overwhelming numbers. The job of police officers is to enforce bourgeois law and order with various degrees of violence, and they bring that propensity for violence back with them to their homes.
Women must organize themselves against these abusers, like the Popular Women’s Movement (Movimiento Femenino Popular, PWM-MFP) did in an action against former Austin Police Officer Jason Duane Dusterhoft earlier this year, because the police are not going to help. They are the enemy.