On Wednesday (January 13), video surfaced on social media showing the moments before police shot and killed a man in Killeen, Texas. Civil rights attorney Lee Merritt released the footage of officer Reynaldo Contreras, a five-year veteran of the department, fatally shooting 52-year-old Patrick Warren, Sr. after responding to a wellness check at around 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
“A mental health call should not be a death sentence,” Merritt, who’s representing Warren’s family, said in a press release Wednesday.
According to KWTX, the family has called for the firing of the officer, an independent investigation and the body camera and dashboard camera footage to be released to the public.
The video shows the officer at Warren’s door before briefly entering the house and then stepping back outside. Warren is then seen stepping out with his hands in the air.
The shooting by the officer is subsequently heard on cellphone footage taken by a bystander but is out of the view of the surveillance camera.
“Upon the officer’s arrival, he encountered an emotionally distressed man,” police spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said earlier. “The officer initially used his conducted energy weapon, which was ineffective, and then discharged his duty weapon during the encounter, striking the subject.”
Warren was taken to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center where he passed away.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting a resident repeatedly says, “I told you, don’t use a gun.” Merritt’s press release claims Warren’s family had “contacted mental health professionals for help” after noticing changes in his behavior. The family was informed that a mental health deputy wasn’t available so Killeen officers were sent to the home instead.
According to Merritt, Warren “initially greeted officers, but asked them to leave his property.” The officer used a Taser in an attempt to subdue Warren and then “fired his first shot into Patrick and (then) redirected his weapon towards Patrick’s wife, Barbara, telling her to get back from Patrick.”
“The officer again trains his weapon on Patrick’s body and continues to fire his weapon, killing him,” Merritt said.
Texas Rangers are investigating the incident. Contreras has reportedly been placed on administrative leave.
Warren’s family has created a GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral expenses.
BET has been covering every angle of the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other social justice cases and the subsequent aftermath and protests. For our continuing coverage, click here.