Last week a Texas man was shot down in his front yard by two Bexar County police officers. Though there has been a push to outfit cops with body cameras following the Ferguson, Mo., incidents last year, the two veteran cops were not wearing body cams. However, two videos taken at the scene, one of which has been released to the public, reveal new details.
According to County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau, “Gilbert Flores was carrying a knife when the deputies confronted him Friday outside of a home northwest of San Antonio.” Deputies Robert Sanchez and Greg Vasquez believed he was still armed when they shot him.
One video of the scene captured by a motorist, show Mr. Flores with his hands raised prior to being shot, though one arm was obscured by a utility pole, making it impossible to determine, from the video alone, whether Flores was indeed armed.
The video also does not show the entire altercation. The video “causes concern, but it is also important to understand that was an end of a lengthy confrontation,” Sheriff. Pamerleau said, citing that the officers’ attempt to arrest Flores, including the use of a taser, were not seen in the video, reported the Express-News.
District Attorney Nico LaHood said a second video provides a clearer, unobstructed shot of the scene, which will be considered with supplemental evidence in the investigation.
Broadcastify, a website that publishes emergency response and police radio traffic, captured a 30-minute audio clip, during which a paramedic on the scene relayed escalating events to the county dispatcher.
“You better get some other (sheriff) units out here, ASAP,” the paramedic tells the dispatcher.
“All right, copy, what's going on?”
“The subject is attacking (the deputies) right now.” Moments later, the paramedic reports “shots fired.”
This initial report of shots fired was not fatal and may have been the deputies attempted use of a taser.
“They are talking to the subject now. They're outside talking to him. And he has a knife in his hand.”
Then came the fatal shots.
“Suspect down at this time,” the paramedic told the dispatcher, roughly 10 minutes after he reported the first “shots fired.”
Pamerleau and the Bexar County Sheriff’s office are continuing their investigation at this time, cooperating with the district attorney’s office and the FBI, who has confirmed an open federal civil-rights investigation. In a statement to the Express-News, the bureau recounted, “Our focus is to determine whether a civil rights violation took place as a result of a deputy willfully engaging in the use of excessive or unjustified force."
No further information has been released regarding statements from either of the deputies involved.
Congressman Joaquin Casto, who represents San Antonio, issued a public statement on the shooting. “This incident is further evidence that police officers and deputies should wear body cameras. The widely-supported technology brings transparency and accountability that protects law enforcement and civilians alike. With regard to the specific case in San Antonio, I trust that District Attorney Nico LaHood will pursue an indictment if all the evidence merits it.”
This report contains material from the Associated Press.