The attorney representing the family of a 13-year-old boy who was fatally shot by a San Antonio, Texas police officer said the boy posed no threat to the officers when he was killed.
Attorney Lee Merritt said there was “a clear civil rights violation” after watching partial police footage of the encounter. The video included footage from two police dash cameras and the body worn camera of officer Stephen Ramos, the officer who shot and killed 13-year-old Andre Hernandez Jr. earlier this month.
According to San Antonio police, at approximately 1:20 a.m. on June 3, officers were responding to calls about gunfire when they “located an attempted to stop a suspect vehicle, which was later discovered to have been reported stolen.”
“While attempting to stop the suspect vehicle, the vehicle accelerated towards a marked SAPD patrol vehicle, crashing into the officer’s patrol vehicle,” the police department said in a statement. “A second officer, fearing that the other officer would be stuck by the suspect vehicle, discharged his firearm and struck the suspect driver.”
Merritt said the videos he watched contradicted the description of the encounter police released.
According to Merritt’s description of the encounter based on the videos he watched, when police cars approached the car driven by Andre, he reversed into a driveway not into a police vehicle as police alleged.
As two police cars approached the driveway, the teen began slowly driving forward, eventually making contact with one of the cars, Merritt said.
“The car was not traveling more than 2 to 5 miles per hour,” he said. “There was no ramming or crash, it was a bump.”
“In less than a second, you hear a gunshot,” the attorney said.
“There was one shot, and no ‘let me see your hand,’” he said, adding that if there is an active threat officers are trained to shoot until that threat is terminated. Nothing of that effect took place on the videos, Merritt said.
After he was shot, Andre stepped out of the car to surrender, police said. He was treated by paramedics and taken to a nearby hospital, where he died, they said.
A neighbor who livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook said he saw police pulling the boy from the vehicle, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
“Instead of trying to apply pressure, he’s pulling him out, and he’s still trying to search him,” Jesse Hernandez, who saw the incident, told the newspaper and Andre’s mother.
“The little boy was like: ‘Not so rough, officer, please. I’m in pain,” he said. “‘Don’t be so rough. It hurts, officer.’”
He said his video was deleted from Facebook shortly after he posted it, according to the Express-News.
Lynda Espinoza, Andre’s mother, said her son died down the street from where his sister was killed. She said police took five days to contact her about the shooting despite having her contact information.
Police said that the officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative duty until further notice and that no officers or passengers in the car were injured.