Texas Police Chief On Officer Who Killed Patrick Warren: 'I Don't See Where He Could Have Done Anything Else'
The family's lawyer said the officer was not certified to properly engage with the man.
January 16, 2021 at 2:26 am
Update (January 25, 2021): A Texas police chief is defending the officer who killed Patrick Warren, a 52-year-old Black man, during a mental health check. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Police Chief Charles Kimble said Officer Reynaldo Contreras tried to use non-lethal force before deploying his firearm during the encounter in Killeen, Texas, on Jan. 10.
"I don't see where he could have done anything else. I saw an officer try to handle a call, de-escalate a call," Kimble said, according to CNN. "Given the same set of circumstances, I just don't know what else we could do."
As seen on the family’s Ring camera, the officer rang the doorbell when he arrived at the scene and held a conversation with someone at the house. The video shows Warren emerging from the house seconds later, waving both of his empty hands in the air as he came out. Warren then walked toward Contreras while relatives pleaded with the officer, urging him to avoid using deadly force.
“Don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him!” the family yelled, as Blavity previously reported.
But the sound of gunshots was heard on the video seconds later.
“I told you don’t use a gun, I told you!” one person said.
A day before the fatal confrontation, the family had called for a mental health resource officer to check on their loved one. Warren voluntarily went to the hospital with the specialized officer after the call. The next day, however, Contreras responded to the call instead of the mental health resource support. Contreras was ill-equipped to deal with the call and was the catalyst in the fatal encounter, according to Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney.
“There’s no reason that a mental health call like this should result in a fatality,” Merritt said, according to HuffPost. “Mr. Warren was not aggressive, Mr. Warren was not armed, he was in his home, on his lawn.”
Kimble said the five-year department veteran had more than the minimum amount of mandated training. He added that the department is looking for better ways to address psychiatric calls.
In a statement on Jan. 13, police said Contreras has been placed on administrative leave.
“This incident is rightfully of great concern to the community. As Killeen police chief, it is my duty to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted so that all parties, including the public, have the answers they seek,” Kimble said.
Original (January 15, 2021): The family of a Black man has been calling for a police officer to be charged for fatally shooting the man while he was having a mental health episode, an attorney representing the family said on Thursday.
While responding to an emergency psychiatric call in Killeen, Texas, Officer Reynaldo Contreras was captured by the family’s home Ring video system shooting an unarmed Patrick Warren after tasering him moments before the fatal attack. The 52-year-old was gunned down on Sunday despite his relatives pleading with the officer not to use deadly force as he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
“There’s no reason that a mental health call like this should result in a fatality,” attorney Lee Merritt said, according to HuffPost. “Mr. Warren was not aggressive, Mr. Warren was not armed, he was in his home, on his lawn.”
On Saturday, Warren’s family called for a mental health resource officer during a manic episode he experienced and the specialized officer was able to get Warrant to voluntarily go with them to the hospital, Merrit said.
— Ananda Robinson (@AnandaRobinson3) January 13, 2021
However, during Warren’s Sunday mental health episode, Contreras responded instead of the mental health resource support. The family’s attorney said the officer, who responded on Sunday, was ill-equipped to deal with Warren’s situation and was the catalyst in the fatal encounter.
In a video of the Sunday incident, Contreras arrives at Warren’s house and rings the doorbell. Then, he starts conversing with someone before walking away from the camera’s view. Warren emerges from the house seconds later and steps out waving both his empty hands in the air.
As the distressed Warren walks toward the officer, they both step out of the frame and a family member yells from the house, “Don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him!” The sound of gunshots ring out seconds later and one of Warren’s relatives cries out, “I told you don’t use a gun, I told you!”
NBC News reports that there is another video, via cell phone, that shows Warren get up off the ground and walk out of view of the camera. In that video, the officer allegedly yells at Warren to remain on the ground before shots are heard on the video.
In police reports, the Killeen Police Department described Warren as “emotionally distressed,” and alleged that the taser attempt was “ineffective,” prompting the officer to resort to deadly force.
Contreras has been placed on administrative leave and an investigation into the matter has been launched by the Texas Rangers, according to HuffPost. The family is requesting that Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza launch a private investigation.
Warren recently lost his job at a local plant because of the coronavirus pandemic, Warren's wife, Bobbie, told NBC News. He had since started a landscaping business to cover bills and expenses.
"Patrick was a loving husband, father and devoted man of God,” she said in a statement. “As we deal with the pain of his sudden loss we are asking the community to join us in honoring his name and demanding justice,"
Following the tragic shooting, the family has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to cover funeral costs. Warren’s son Patrick Warren Jr. said his family’s main objective is to “make sure this doesn’t happen again” and that no son has to watch as his father is killed by people believed to be a support.