Austin, TX — An Austin man, Alexander Gonzales, 27, was shot dead after an interaction with an off-duty cop that started on a highway. The officer claimed Gonzales cut him off and brandished a gun, so he followed the man and shot at him six times — as they drove down the road — hitting Gonzales and his female passenger. The couple's baby was in the backseat of the car.
Cellphone footage was shared online in January, however, Austin Police released video Wednesday showing what dash cameras and body cameras captured that night. It does not look good for the officers involved.
Originally, police refused to speculate on whether or not the shooting was an act of road rage. However, they are now fully admitting it because the video captured Austin police Officer Gabriel Gutierrez saying those very words.
“Um, it was a road rage incident. I was driving and he cut me off, and he pointed a gun at me,” Gutierrez said on the 911 call. Though Gutierrez claimed his victim pointed a gun at him, this is not seen in the video. What's more, when Gutierrez shoots Gonzales, Gonzales did not have a gun in his hand. He was simply appeared to be checking on his baby in the back seat.
“The officer fired at the suspect at this point. Multiple rounds were fired by the officer,” Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said at the time of the shooting.
Though police claim Gonzales pointed a gun at the off-duty cop, they admit he never fired it. What's more, they refer to Gonzales as the suspect despite the officer shooting him.
Bystander video captured the moments after Gonzales came to a halt. When the off-duty officer opened fire on Gonzales, he also shot the innocent woman in the passenger seat. Luckily, the one-year-old baby in the back seat did not also become a victim.
As the cellphone video shows, Gonzales is walking around the car and appears to be confused. At this point, he's already been shot and has no idea that the man who shot him is a cop, other than the off-duty cop in plain clothes and in his personal vehicle, claiming he is a cop.
“Do not make me shoot you again, man!” Gutierrez yells.
When police show up, Gonzales — likely disoriented from being shot — does not listen to their commands and instead walks around to the passenger side of the car.
The other officers can be heard yelling, “Put your hands up!” and its Spanish translation, “Manos arriba!”
Gonzales could have simply been checking on the baby's mother who was lying on the ground or attempting to check on his son. However, because he did not listen to their commands, another officer, APD officer Luis Serrato opened fire on him, dumping multiple rounds into the man, killing him on the spot.
“As he reaches into the vehicle the on-duty Austin police officer fired shots at him, striking him at that moment and then he goes down,” Manley said.
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Police admitted Gonzales was not holding a gun at the time and only claimed that they found "what they believe is his gun" in the car.
“We have located a firearm where this scene ended where the car is right now and that is believed to be the same firearm,” Manley said.
Though the incident appears to be a clear cut case of road rage gone awry, police treated the situation as if the officer did no wrong — as if chasing down a family and firing at them from a moving vehicle is somehow acceptable.
“I think when you see the video, it’s going to be heartbreaking and tragic,” attorney for Gonzales’ parents, Scott Hendler said. “What happened is unconscionable, in my opinion. There’s no credible defense for it.”
Hendler told reporters the video appears to show Gonzales checking on his baby when officers finished him off like an animal. What's more, they fired so many shots into the back glass, they could've easily killed the 2-month-old baby.
“He’s clearly wounded,” Hendler said of Gonzales following Gutierrez shooting at him in traffic. “The officers responding know that he’s bleeding because [Gutierrez] reported to the dispatcher, ‘He’s got blood on his face.’”
“He can be seen walking very unsteadily toward the back of the car using the car to hold him up. You can see him walk behind the car. He has no weapon in his hand. He doesn’t brandish a weapon. He doesn’t have anything in his hand. He doesn’t point anything at the officers.”
“He walks to the other side of the vehicle where his girlfriend and the mother of his child is lying on the ground, wounded, to check on her,” Hendler said. “She asks him to check on the baby. He then opens the back door to look in and leans in to check on the baby, and that’s when he’s shot.”
According to KXAN, Serrato has been with APD for two years. Gutierrez has been in the department for five years. Both are on administrative leave.
Had the off-duty officer simply called in the license plate, Gonzales would be alive today and able to plead his case. However, that did not happen and Gonzales is dead because the officer decided to chase him down and shoot him and the baby's mother.