Video suggests Texas man had hands raised when officers shot him dead
A man who was killed by sheriff's deputies in San Antonio last week appeared to have his hands raised when officers delivered the fatal shots, according to newly released video footage.
When the video begins, 41-year-old Gilbert Flores is seen running shirtless in the front yard of a house. Moments after he appears to put his hands up, two shots can be heard. Flores doubles over and falls to the ground. He died later in hospital.
However, it is not entirely clear whether Flores put one or both hands up, as his left arm is hidden by a pole.
“Certainly what’s in the video is a cause for concern,” Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said at a press conference. “But it’s important to let the investigation go through its course so that we can assure a thorough and complete review of all that occurred.”
Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas LaHood called the video “disturbing” and said investigators are also reviewing 911 calls and statements from people inside the house, according to local news outlet KSAT 12 News.
“This is a very unique situation where we actually have the shooting on video,” he said. “That gives us a whole different perspective that we’ve never had before.”
The FBI has begun monitoring the department's investigation, according to Special Agent Michelle Lee, a spokeswoman for the FBI in San Antonio.
“Experienced civil rights investigators from the FBI will thoroughly review the facts and circumstances surrounding the shooting,” Lee said in a statement. “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.”
The cellphone video was recorded by university student Michael Thomas and provided to local news outlet KSAT 12.
“I was watching, I was kind of wondering what was going on, but I couldn’t figure it out,” Thomas told KSAT 12. “Just the things that’s been going on in the world, like different types of shootings, cops and different things like that. So I was like, well maybe I can catch something on my camera.”
Judge Nelson Wolff, the county's highest elected official, told the New York Times that the video is “very shocking and looks very bad,” adding that he has “been in this position for 14 years, and I've never seen anything like it.”
Authorities say the video is one of two that are being reviewed by investigators.
The Bexar County Sherriff's Office said that deputies were responding to a domestic disturbance call on Friday morning, and that Flores had allegedly injured a woman and an 18-month-old child. The woman was found inside the house with a cut on her head.
The sheriff said the deputies had attempted to arrest the man, but he resisted. They reportedly tried to subdue him using Tasers and shields, but eventually shot him after a “lengthy confrontation.”
The deputies involved, identified as Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez, have been placed on administrative leave while the county sheriff and district attorney's offices conduct investigations and decide whether to file charges. The two deputies, both of whom had been with the department for more than 10 years, were not injured in the shooting.
Wolff said he expects the video to be discussed on Tuesday at a meeting of the Commissioners Court, when he and the panel's four commissioners will vote on a budget that includes funding for police body cameras, the New York Times reported.