Charlotte, NC – The police officer who was responsible for shooting and killing a man who clearly had his hands raised in the air in surrender, will not face charges, even after the incident was caught on video.
The encounter began when Rueben Galindo, 29, called police on Sept. 6, and said that he was in possession of a firearm that he wanted to turn over to police. The father of five young children was on the phone with 911 operators for around 15 minutes
In the recordings of the calls released by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and translated in a report from the News & Observer, a dispatcher is heard describing Galindo as a “Spanish-speaking man” who called 911 “saying he’s armed with a gun and wants officers to come help him. He refuses to give interpreters further information. It’s unknown what he wants to do with the gun. Unknown if he’s suicidal. He’s not really cooperating.”
When the dispatcher asked Galindo what kind of help he needed, he replied, “Somebody who can speak Spanish.”
When an interpreter comes on the line, Galindo is asked, “Do you have a weapon?” and he replies, “Yes.”
“Where do you have the weapon?” the interpreter asked.
“In my bag,” Galindo said. “If you want, I can take it out.”
“Yes. yes, please,” the interpreter responded. “Can you leave it in a safe spot in the house. I don’t know where you can leave it, just somewhere safe. When the officers arrive, please show them your hands. OK? I don’t want you with a weapon.”
“OK,” Galindo said, and then asked if police were on their way. “They’re on their way, sir,” the interpreter confirmed.
Galindo stayed on the line with the interpreter, and continued to ask where the officers were. The interpreter responded by claiming the officers were on their way, and even saying, “They are there to help you.”
Galindo then confirmed the most important fact that officers should have been aware of, and he repeated it multiple times:
“I don’t have bullets. I don’t have bullets. I don’t have bullets. I don’t have bullets. I don’t have bullets. I am telling you sincerely and clearly that I don’t have bullets.”
When contacting the officers responding to the scene, the dispatcher said, “He says he still has a gun on him… He’s saying he doesn’t have any bullets in it, but he says he still has a gun on him and doesn’t want to set it down anywhere else. It appears he’s inside because he’s opening doors.”
“We’re outside of the apartment, the side of the building facing the road,” an officer replied.
As Galindo stayed on the line with the interpreter, and the dispatcher tried to communicate with the officers, the scene quickly changed and an officer opened fire on Galindo. “Shot fired, shot fired. Suspect down.” the officer confirmed.
As The Free Thought Project reported, video footage of the encounter paints a chaotic scene in which officers, “began shouting to Galindo ‘manos,’ which means only ‘hands’ in Spanish. Other officers told him to throw the gun down. Still, another officer told him to put his hands up, which he did. He had his hands up for several seconds before one officer opened fire, hitting him twice, killing him. Galindo can be heard taking his final gasping breaths as the 911 call ends.”
The district attorney has now confirmed that the officer responsible for the fatal shooting, David Guerra, will face no charges. In a statement, the DA said:
“While it is entirely possible that Galindo’s intent was to surrender to police and give them the firearm, other alternatives that could have been lethal to the officers, neighbors in the community or other occupants of the residence were just as likely based on the information available to Officer Guerra in the seconds he had to evaluate the situation. This officer-involved shooting was indisputably tragic, but it was not unlawful.”
While the district attorney acknowledges the fact that neighbors could have been in danger if Galindo was acting erratically and in possession of a loaded gun, the statement does not address how those neighbors were endangered when Guerra opened fire, and it does not confirm whether bullets were found in Galindo’s possession.
According to the report from the News & Observer, while police confirmed that they recovered the handgun Galindo was referencing, they still “have not stated whether it had any bullets in it.”