April 13, 2021 22:45

Body cam released of Texas officer involved shooting during ‘mental health check’

Jessica Schladebeck

New York Daily News

The family of a Texas Black man, who was shot and killed by a police officer called to perform a mental health check, begged the cop to put his gun away in the seconds before he discharged his firearm.

Ring doorbell footage released by attorney Lee Merritt shows Killeen Police Officer Reynaldo Contreras arrive at the residence Sunday just before 5:30 p.m. He was responding at the time to a call from the family of Patrick Warren Sr., who had been struggling through what his loved ones believed to be a mental health crisis.

Even though the family requested the help of mental health professional, authorities instead sent over Contreras, who was “was not prepared to handle” the psychiatric call, Merritt told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

The officer again appears on the Ring doorbell footage as he exits the home, just a few minutes after he arrived. He’s followed outside by Warren, who is waving his hands in the air. Contreras is then heard asking Warren to get down on the ground while his family members call out to the officer, pleading with him to not shoot.

Warren ignores the officers demands, instead walking toward him and out of view of the camera.

The video, which appears to be edited, then cuts to cell phone footage, which shows Warren get up off the ground and again walk out of frame. A man can be heard calling out, telling Warren to “sit down” before the sound of gunfire rings out.

“I told you, don’t use a gun!” a man from inside the home can be heard shouting.

Warren was struck in the chest and rushed to the hospital, where he later died from his wounds.

Merritt during a press conference on Thursday told reporters the family similarly requested assistance the day before the shooting, which they received without issue.

A mental health resource officer responded to the home on Saturday and Warren voluntarily agreed to go to the hospital for evaluation. He later returned home.

“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; he was on his lawn. He was within his rights to reject the services of law enforcement after they arrived.”

The Killeen Police Department in a statement said Contreras, a five-year department veteran, responded to the home, where he “encountered an emotionally distressed man.” Authorities noted the officer also used his “conducted energy weapon” on Warren but turned to lethal force when it was not effective.

The Texas Rangers, the agency handling the shooting investigation, said that any additional information will be “coordinated by the District Attorney’s Office and the Killeen Police Department.”

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