San Antonio, TX — The unedited video depicting police officers gunning down an unarmed man holding his hands up in the air was released on Monday after the sheriff’s department identified the names of the deputies and the man that they killed.
Although the police claim that the man had a knife and attacked the deputies, the video clearly shows the man was unarmed and submitting to the officers when they opened fire. Another witness has come forward with a separate video of the shooting from a different angle, but the footage from the second camera has not been released to the public.
At 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Bexar County sheriff’s deputies Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez responded to a domestic disturbance call concerning a woman who had been assaulted. According to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, the deputies arrived at the residence and found a woman bleeding from a cut on her head. Vasquez and Sanchez reported that she was holding an 18-month-old baby who also “appeared to possibly have been injured.”
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Vasquez and Sanchez found 41-year-old Gilbert Flores holding what appeared to be a knife. The deputies attempted to take Flores down by using nonlethal force, but Flores allegedly fought back and resisted arrest. After unsuccessfully trying to subdue Flores with nonlethal weapons, deputies resorted to their firearms and shot him to death.
But according to witnesses and at least one cell phone video, the deputies never attempted to deploy nonlethal tactics and apparently gunned down the unarmed man while his empty hands were in the air. A witness who wishes to be identified only as “Leo” told Telemundo that he saw two officers approach the man with their guns drawn and ordered the man to get on the ground. When he refused to comply, the deputies immediately opened fire.
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On Friday evening, a cell phone video of the shooting emerged after a witness named Michael Thomas shared the footage with local news station KSAT12. The video shows a man standing on the front lawn of a house when deputies Vasquez and Sanchez approach him. Pacing back and forth, the man places his hands in the air multiple times and does not appear to be holding a knife or any other weapon.
KSAT12’s editorial team initially chose to freeze the video at the moment before the deputies gunned down Flores. But after the sheriff’s department released the names of the deputies and the victim on Monday, KSAT12 decided to show the rest of Thomas’ video. The unedited version clearly shows Flores holding his empty hands in the air when Vasquez and Sanchez killed him. The video does not show the deputies attempting to use nonlethal force, and Flores does not make physical contact with the deputies until they handcuff his seemingly lifeless body.
Investigators from the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s office are also reviewing a second video that captured the shooting. According to Bexar County District Attorney Nicholas LaHood, an unidentified witness has come forward with a second video of the shooting taken from another angle. Refusing to release the footage during the investigation or disclose details of the second video, LaHood admitted, “Definitely. The video is disturbing.”
According to Deputy Chief George Saidler, the 18-month-old baby is fine and uninjured. Saidler told reporters, “As far as I know the baby is fine. I think he’s with relatives or with the mom I’m not sure where, but the baby is fine and uninjured at this time.”
Vasquez and Sanchez have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting. Both deputies have served in the sheriff’s department for over 10 years.