Texas Officers Sued in Videotaped Killing

     SAN ANTONIO (CN) – The family of Gilbert Flores, whose videotaped killing by Texas sheriff’s officers sparked public outrage, sued the county and the officers Monday to preserve evidence.
     After a TV station posted unedited video on the Internet of the officers killing Flores, who was shirtless, with his hands up, Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau called the posting – but not the killing – “ unethical .”
     Sheriff’s Officers Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez responded to a domestic disturbance call and shot Flores, 41, in the front yard of his home on Aug. 28. Unknown to the officers, a college student parked in his car filmed the encounter from about 200 yards away.
     Pamerleau said at the time that her officers killed Flores after a “lengthy confrontation,” which was not caught on film. Posting of the 4-minute video sparked outrage in a nation already roiled by multiple police killings.
     As the student records the killing, he says to himself, “They just cold-blooded shot that (expletive deleted).”
     Congressman Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, called the killing “extremely disturbing.”
     “It appears to show an unarmed man with his hands up being shot by a deputy,” Castro said. “I trust that District Attorney Nico LaHood will pursue an indictment if all the evidence merits it.”
     Flores appeared to be unarmed. One of his raised hands was partially obscured by a telephone pole in the video, and on Sept. 8 Sheriff Pamerleau said that a second video, shot from another angle, showed that Flores was holding a knife. That video has not been released, and Pamerleau’s spokesman said there are no plans to release it.
     Vasquez and Sanchez are on paid administrative leave, and the FBI’s civil rights division said it is investigating.
     A 30-minute audio posted by Broadcastify records a paramedic’s exchanges with a dispatcher, who said Flores’ wife was inside the home with a head injury, and a 2-month-old child “with a black eye.”
     At one point the dispatcher says, “He’s threatening suicide by cop.”
     In the Sept. 14 lawsuit, Flores’ widow, Maritza Amador, their two young children and Flores’ parents seek a restraining order to preserve evidence, and punitive damages for pain and suffering, loss of earnings, medical and funeral expenses, loss of consortium and civil rights violations.
     They claim that a longtime FBI agent, Dr. Philip Hayden, reviewed the video and concluded: “In reviewing this video Mr. Flores did not appear to make any threatening movement towards the officers prior to them shooting. If Mr. Flores had a knife in his left hand this would not change my opinion. It is my opinion, which I hold to a reasonable degree of professional certainty, that in order for Mr. Flores to be an immediate threat he would have had to make some sort of an assertive movement that would cause the officers to believe they were going to be attacked and their lives were in danger. This did not appear to happen. Therefore the shooting was unnecessary and unreasonable and there was no probable cause to use deadly force.”
     It is unclear from the lawsuit whether the citation is from the FBI investigation announced after the video became public, or whether the family hired Hayden independently.
     They are represented by Thomas Henry, in Corpus Christi.

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