Biden quietly visited Houston cop wounded in 2019 shooting, chief reveals

Chief Art Acevedo said Biden -- then a DNC presidential candidate -- had asked to visit the officer: "No media, I simply want to lift his spirits"


By Jay R. Jordan
Houston Chronicle

HOUSTON — It was a secret well-kept by a select few, including Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and President Joe Biden.

On the night of Sept. 12, 2019, Biden and nine other presidential hopefuls wrapped up a Democrat primary debate at Houston's Texas Southern University. It was one of several debates before Biden became the eventual Democrat nominee and president.

As the candidates were escorted from debate hall, police officers were pursuing men who had allegedly threatened a priest in an armed robbery about a mile away.

Officer Taylor Roccaforte was attempting to arrest one of the men when they began to struggle, police said then. The man grabbed Roccaforte's gun and shot the officer in the gut.

A backup officer then shot the armed man dead.

Roccaforte was rushed to the hospital and survived his injuries. There were charges for the other men who were arrested.

For most reporters covering the story (including me), that was the end.

But after Biden was inaugurated as president Wednesday, Acevedo shared a detail of the story that no one had reported before.

Days after the shooting, Biden called Acevedo and asked to meet Roccaforte in the hospital.

From left to right, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, President Joe Biden, Sam Roccaforte and Officer Taylor Roccaforte.
From left to right, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, President Joe Biden, Sam Roccaforte and Officer Taylor Roccaforte. (Photo/Taylor Roccaforte via Art Acevedo, Twitter)

"If you think it would be helpful to his spirit and recovery, I would like to visit him at the hospital," Biden said, Acevedo recalled. "No media, I am simply want to lift his spirits."

After some logistic puzzle solving, the two met inside Memorial Hermann Hospital.

Corroborated by those photos, Acevedo said there were smiles all around as Biden offered good will.

He touted Biden for keeping the visit quiet, despite the political opportunity.

"I share this today to illustrate the decency of the man who we now call Mr. President, although he prefers to be called Joe," Acevedo tweeted.

(c)2021 the Houston Chronicle

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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