San Antonio, TX -- Responding to a domestic disturbance call on Friday, two deputies gunned down an unarmed man clearly holding his hands in the air. Although police claim that the man appeared to have a knife, newly released cell phone video reveals that the man was unarmed and holding his empty hands up when deputies killed him. According to the sheriff, her deputies attempted to use nonlethal force to subdue the man, but another witness recently told reporters that police never gave the man a chance before opening fire.
At 11:30 a.m. on Friday, Bexar County sheriff’s deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call concerning a woman who had been assaulted. According to Bexar County Sheriff’s Office spokesman James Keith, deputies arrived at the residence and found a woman bleeding from a cut on her head. The deputies reported that she was holding an 18-month-old baby who also “appeared to possibly have been injured.”
The Sheriff’s Office claims that two deputies found a man who appeared to have a knife and tried to take him down using nonlethal force. According to Keith, the man resisted arrest and fought back against the deputies. After unsuccessfully attempting to subdue the man with nonlethal weapons, deputies resorted to their firearms and shot him to death.
But according to witnesses and a newly released video, the deputies never attempted to deploy nonlethal tactics and apparently gunned down the unarmed man while his 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.
“I don’t think they gave him a chance, you know?” Leo told reporters. “They could’ve at least tased him.”
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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 two deputies 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 chose to freeze the video at the moment before the deputies gun down the man. At the end of the video, the man appears to be unarmed and submitting with his empty hands in the air when deputies opened fire. The video does not show the deputies attempting to use nonlethal force, and the man does not make physical contact with the deputies.
At a press conference on Friday night, Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau refused to release the names of the victim and the two deputies involved in his death. When asked which nonlethal weapons were deployed before the shooting, the sheriff claimed that her deputies unsuccessfully used a Taser and a shield against the man. When asked about the video of the man holding his hands up, Sheriff Pamerleau responded, “Well, certainly what’s in the video is a cause for concern.”
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.”
The two deputies have been placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting. The sheriff’s department is working with the district attorney’s office to investigate whether the shooting was clean or a blatant act of murder.