Conflicting Stories on Fatal Police Shooting
McALLEN, Texas (CN) - Two Texas police officers shot a Hispanic man to death in his home after pulling him over with "no lawful basis," the man's family claims in court.
The estate of Margarito Martinez Gallegos sued the city of Three Rivers, its police department, Police Chief Vance Roberts and Officers Monsies Robles and Noah Leuschner, in Federal Court.
Three Rivers, pop. 1,883, is 70 miles northwest of Corpus Christi.
Plaintiff Adrian Martinez Gallegos claims Robles pulled over a green Ford Mustang on April 17, 2013.
"Mr. Margarito Martinez was the driver of the vehicle," the complaint states. "There was no lawful basis to stop the vehicle. At no time prior to the stop or during the stop did Officer Robles have information that led him to believe that the occupants of the Ford Mustang were engaged in criminal activity."
Martinez claims Robles made the stop based on "the racial appearance of Mr. Margarito Martinez and the passenger of the Ford Mustang."
Leuschner arrived as Robles asked Martinez and his passenger for identification and proof they were legally in the United States.
"Upon learning that the passenger did not have identification and legal status, Officer Leuschner and Officer Robles arrested the passenger of the vehicle," according to the complaint.
"Officer Robles did not have any legal basis to detain Mr. Margarito Martinez. As he was not detained or under arrest, Mr. Margarito Martinez headed home, which was a few feet from where defendant officers had stopped the Ford Mustang.
"Officer Robles, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, followed Mr. Martinez and unlawfully attempted to detain [him]. Mr. Martinez entered his home, at which point Officer Robles deployed his service Taser against Mr. Margarito Martinez. While being shocked by Officer Robles' Taser, Mr. Martinez fell inside his home and his door closed."
Robles went inside the house and zapped Martinez again with his Taser, and Martinez tried to pull the prongs off his body, the plaintiff says.
"At that point, Officer Robles drew his service weapon and shot Mr. Martinez dead inside his home," the complaint states.
"On or near the same time, Officer Leuschner also without reasonable suspicion or probable cause entered Mr. Martinez's home and once inside, Officer Leuschner also drew his service weapon and shot Mr. Martinez dead inside his home."
Adrian Martinez seeks punitive damages for due process and civil rights violations.
He is represented by Alfonso Otero with Gonzalez and Otero of San Antonio.
According to a statement the department released after the shooting, Martinez ran off after he could not produce identification for Robles.
"Robles pursued him on foot while Leuschner detained the passenger. Several times, Robles called out to the suspect, 'Police, stop; police stop,' but the suspect kept running until he reached the front door of a residence of the 1500 block of Hackberry," according to the police statement.
Robles shot Martinez with a Taser and Martinez fell into the house and closed the door behind him, the police said.
Robles said in the police statement: "I opened the door but did not see the suspect. I yelled out to Leuschner that I was entering the home. I found the suspect in the kitchen area.
"Leuschner showed up and covered Robles. Backup was requested from other officers and DPS. The suspect started fighting with Robles and Leuschner Tased him.
"During the physical altercation the suspect obtained the Taser. Robles heard Leuschner say, 'Drop the weapon, drop the weapon.' Shots were fired by Leuschner and the subject fell. The subject was holding a Taser in his right hand."
According to the police statement, a justice of the peace held an inquest and pronounced Martinez dead from a gunshot wound to the stomach at 2:15 a.m. on April 18, 2013. He was 25.
Chief Roberts told Courthouse News that because he is named individually in the suit his attorneys advised him not to speak about it.
He did say Officers Robles and Leuschner are "still going strong" with the department.