Two Texas police officers were recorded on a cellphone video shooting and killing a man who appeared to have his arms raised. The footage shows the fatal shooting of 41-year-old Gilbert Flores by Bexar County sheriff’s deputies Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez in San Antonio on Friday, the New York Times reports.
In the full graphic video, released by ABC affiliate KSAT 12 and shot by a local college student named Michael Thomas, Flores is seen fleeing as the two officers approach him with weapons apparently drawn. He then approaches them with his arms out wide before backing away again. Finally, he moves back towards the officers, stops, and appears to put his arms up (the view of one arm is obstructed by a pole). That is when the officers fire.
Flores was the suspect in a domestic disturbance call in which police reported an 18-month-old baby appeared injured and a woman was found with a cut on her head, according to Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau.
Pamerleau said in a press conference on Friday that the shooting occurred after a lengthy confrontation in which Flores reportedly resisted arrest and officers failed to subdue him using non-lethal force, including a Taser and shield.
“Certainly, what’s in the video is a cause for concern,” Pamerleau said. “But it’s important to let the investigation go through its course so that we can assure a thorough and complete review of all that occurred, of the evidence, and the actions of the officers.”
The officers had been with the department for more than ten years and have been placed on administrative leave according to the office’s standard procedure.
The sheriff’s office was investigating the shooting and the FBI said it was monitoring the situation.
“It appears that the victim had his hands in the air at the time that he was shot,” Kenneth Williams, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, told the Times. “He clearly was not running away at the moment he was shot. Furthermore, he did not appear to be reaching for a weapon nor making any movement toward the officer that would have justified the shooting.”
County judge Nelson Wolff also indicated the video was cause for alarm.
“It’s very shocking and looks very bad,” Wolff told the Times. “I’ve been in this position for 14 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”