The city of El Paso, Texas, after being ordered by the Texas Attorney General’s Office to obey an open-records request made by the El Paso Times, has finally released video detailing how body builder Daniel Saenz died while in police custody, the El Paso Times reports.
In the video, released Monday, a police officer attempts to pull out his Taser from his left holster, but reaches for his gun and fatally shoots Saenz, after Saenz, who was handcuffed at the time of the March 8, 2013, incident, pushes the officer. The Times requested the video after the officer involved in the shooting, Jose Flores, was not indicted by a grand jury.
Earlier on the day of the shooting, the 37-year-old body builder had been arrested for allegedly attacking an off-duty officer and staff at the Del Sol Medical Center. The video starts with Saenz, shirtless, his hands cuffed behind his back, being dragged by Flores to be transported from the jail back to a hospital. Jail staff had refused to take Saenz to the hospital because he had hurt himself when he struck his head on a doorway as he had entered the jail, the El Paso Times reported.
Saenz begins to struggle and kick. He also appeared to be trying to injure himself, slamming his head on the ground, El Paso Times notes.
Eventually Flores draws his handgun and fires a single shot, before holstering and pulling out his Taser, getting on top of Saenz who was lying facedown.
Amid the gory scene, Saenz is flipped over and Flores begins to perform CPR before he was taken to the hospital where he eventually died. The bullet had traveled from his shoulder into his chest, according to the El Paso Times.
A statement from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas explains Flores' actions, saying that Saenz was capable of "fronting" his hands in the cuffs (i.e., bring his hands around in front of him), as well as was generally unresponsive to attempts to tase him.
"The video does not show an important event that happened earlier in the day. When Mr. Saenz was in his holding cell at the Pebble Hills Regional Command Center, he was observed moving his cuffed hands from behind his body to the front of his body," the statement by CLEAT attorney Jim Jopling read, according to the El Paso Times. "This is called 'fronting' his cuffs. Mr. Saenz, who was in bare feet, put his shoes on and when finished, moved his handcuffs back behind his body. Mr. Saenz did this with great agility and speed."
"In the video, Officer Flores first reaches for his Taser. However, he decides not to deploy his Taser because he knew that Mr. Saenz—also earlier that same day—had undergone five cycles of the Taser device without effect. He had been tased earlier in the day after he assaulted a police officer and other people at the hospital where he was being evaluated," Jopling added.
There was one other person present at the time of the incident, an unidentified prison transport guard. In the video, when Saenz pushes off of the curb, the movement allegedly sent the guard flying back, his arm hitting Flores' trigger hand, leading to the discharge of the weapon, CLEAT also noted.
According to the El Paso Times, Flores was the same police officer who gained social media fame after buying a pair of heavy-duty boots and some socks for a homeless man in January 2013.
Read more at the El Paso Times.