Grapevine, Texas – Monday, a Texas grand jury chose not to indict a Grapevine Police Officer, Robert Clark, for the shooting death of an unarmed man. Ruben Garcia Villalpando, was killed by Clark as he had his hands on his head but was slowly moving towards the officer, contrary to the officer’s commands.
The officer’s dash cam video shows an initial police chase, as Villalpando attempts to evade Clark at high speeds, with Clark eventually holding him at gunpoint and orders him out of the vehicle after the chase concludes.
The officer then commanded Villalpando to put his hands on his head and walk backwards toward the front of the police cruiser. While Villalpando complies with the order to put his hands on his head, the obviously intoxicated suspect doesn’t comply with the demands to walk backwards.
Instead of walking backwards, the suspect slowly shuffles closer to the Clark, as the officer continually orders Villalpando to stop walking towards him.
As Villalpando stepped out of the camera’s view, Clark fired two rounds into him, subsequently killing Villalpando.
Toeing the standard blue line in cases such as this, Clark claimed that he feared for his life during the encounter and thus shot and killed Villalpando.
What is extremely troubling about this situation, aside from the fact that the grand jury didn’t see fit to indict and allow a jury to decide guilt or innocence, is that Villalpando, while not fully compliant, was not in any way violent or aggressive towards the officer.
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An autopsy revealed that Villalpando had a .14 blood-alcohol level at the time of his death. It seems more plausible that his non-compliance was less about endangering an officer and had more to do with his inebriated state.
Was there no other way for this officer to deal with an intoxicated individual slowly approaching with his hands on his head other than shooting him?
Why are so many law enforcement officers either so afraid, or poorly trained, that they feel the need to pump bullets into unarmed people as their first option in a confrontational situation?
While Villalpando's actions were not fully compliant, and perhaps some use of force could be potentially justified, in a just society his killing would be recognized as unwarranted and someone would need to be held accountable for the taking of his life. Sadly, that is not the current system we live under, as those in positions of authority are shielded from real accountability.
Shouldn't those who are allowed to utilize the government's monopoly on force be held to the highest of standards, rather than the current paradigm where there is very little training required to become an officer, and even less actual oversight once you are initiated as part of the "thin blue line" gang?
Check out the police propaganda video below, trying to justify and excuse the heinous actions of their officer.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, freethinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay's work has previously been published on BenSwann.com and WeAreChange.org. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.