The family of Patrick Warren, a Black man shot dead by police in Killeen, Texas, on Sunday, is calling for justice, saying the 52-year-old was having a mental health crisis when an officer killed him.
In a press conference Thursday, the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, called for the officer who shot Warren, Reynaldo Contreras, to be arrested and prosecuted.
“There’s no reason that a mental health call like this should result in a fatality,” Merritt said. “Mr. Warren was not aggressive, Mr. Warren was not armed, he was in his home, on his lawn.”
In a video of the incident apparently captured by the family’s Ring doorbell, Contreras can be seen arriving at Warren’s house, ringing the doorbell and speaking to someone before walking away from the camera. Warren eventually steps out of the house waving both his hands in the air, unarmed. He walks toward the officer and they both step out of the frame.
Next, family members emerge from the house and one says, “Don’t shoot him, don’t shoot him!” Seconds later, gunshots ring out. Several people on the front steps cry out, “No, no!” and one says, “I told you don’t use a gun, I told you!”
The Killeen Police Department report said Contreras, who has been with the department for five years, was sent to the house in response to a psychiatric call. There, he encountered a man — later identified as Warren — who was “emotionally distressed.” After using a Taser on Warren, which the report said was “ineffective,” Contreras shot him, killing him.
Contreras is on administrative leave and the Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting, the Killeen Police Department said. The family is calling for Bell County District Attorney Henry Garza to conduct an independent investigation.
The Killeen Police Department, Texas Rangers and district attorney’s office did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The killing has left Warren’s family “shattered” and “really struggling,” Merritt said.
Warren was “a man of God who loved his family… his community,” said the attorney. “The way that you honor his name is to stand up for justice.”
Merritt said that the day before the shooting, Warren’s family had called for a mental health resource officer when Warren had a manic episode. A specially trained officer responded, and Warren voluntarily went with that officer to the hospital.
But the next day, when Warren was again experiencing a mental health episode, Contreras responded instead of a resource officer. The attorney said Contreras was not prepared to deal with mental health crises and was “hostile.” The situation “quickly escalated” up until the shooting, he said.
In a GoFundMe fundraiser for the family, Warren’s son Patrick Warren Jr. said his family wants to “make sure this doesn’t happen again and that no one else has to go through a tragedy like this and watch your father be shot and killed by someone you called for help.”
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