The family of a man, Killeen, Texas, who was shot dead by police in the front yard of his home during a mental health check, is calling for the officer’s arrest.
The shooting happened on Sunday just before noon. 5.30pm when the family of Patrick Warren Sr., a black man, called police to ask that a mental health professional be sent to the home.
Instead, an officer who was “unwilling to deal with a mental health crisis” responded to the call, Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt said at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Merritt, who represents the family, said the officer̵
The events leading up to the shooting remain unclear.
Killeen police said Officer Reynaldo Contreras was sent to the home in response to a psychiatric call. When Contreras arrived, “he encountered an emotionally distressed man” according to a police statement.
The officer used his “performed energy weapon” on Warren, but it was not effective, police said. He then used his gun and hit the 52-year-old man. Warren died at a hospital due to his injuries.
Killeen police have not said why Contreras fired his weapon. The department did not return a request for comment Thursday, nor could Contreras be reached.
The Texas Rangers, which is handling the shooting investigation, said additional information will be “coordinated by the district attorney’s office and Killeen police.”
The moment before and after the shooting was captured on video, which Merritt shared on Wednesday on her Twitter page.
In video captured by a Ring doorbell camera, the officer knocks on the front door and is told to enter. After a few moments, Contreras leaves home followed by Warren waving his hands in the air.
The officer is heard asking Warren to come down to earth. Someone in the home yells at Contreras not to shoot. Warren walks towards the officer and outside the camera.
Another video, apparently filmed on a cell phone, shows Warren rising from the ground and walking forward outside the camera’s sight. A man shouts at Warren to “sit down.” Several shots can be heard in the video.
“No! I said you do not use a gun,” the man shouts.
Merritt said the family had called police Saturday the day before the shooting because of a mental concern involving Warren.
A mental health resource officer responded, and Warren voluntarily agreed to go to the hospital for evaluation. He later returned home.
The family called police again the following day because they were still worried about Warren, Merritt said. They asked Contreras to leave because they wanted the resource manager who had previously responded.
“There is no reason why a mental health call like this should result in a death. Mr. Warren was not aggressive. Mr. Warren was not armed. He was in his home; he was on his lawn. He was within his rights to reject law enforcement services after they arrived, ”the lawyer said at Thursday’s press conference.
“Their responsibility was simply to leave or send appropriate personnel to deal with this particular crisis. They failed this family in every way and it left them crushed.”
Warren’s wife, Bobbie, said her husband had lost his job at a local facility due to the coronavirus pandemic. He had started landscaping so he could support his family.
“Patrick was a loving husband, father and devoted husband of God. As we deal with the pain of his sudden loss, we ask the community to join us to honor his name and demand justice,” she said in a statement shared by her lawyer . .
Contreras, a 5-year veteran of the Killeen Police Department, was put on administrative leave, which is common practice in shootings involving officers. Merritt said the officer should be arrested immediately.
Killeen Police Chief Charles Kimble said there would be a thorough investigation into the shooting. The police department also conducts a separate investigation of internal affairs.
“This incident justifies with great interest the community. As Chief of Police for Killeen, it is my duty to ensure that a thorough investigation is conducted so that all parties, including the public, have the answers they seek. There are many more facts in this case. , which are not publicly available at this time, ”he said in a statement.
“I assure you that more information will be available as soon as relevant, and I ask for your patience as both investigations continue.”