An independent autopsy has revealed that a Black man who was killed by a Texas police officer was shot in the back.
According to CBS News, 22-year-old Joshua Feast was shot by La Marque police officer Jose Santos last week. Santos approached Feast about an outstanding warrant, which is when investigators say Feast pulled a gun out on the officer. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who’s representing Feast’s family, has said that the results of the independent autopsy show Feast was not a threat to the officer when he was shot.
“He was a defenseless man who was running away,” Crump said at a press conference announcing the autopsy results on Wednesday. “There was no reason for [Santos] to shoot and kill this young man, who had only turned 22 three weeks ago.”
The autopsy revealed that the bullet hit Feast in the upper back and didn’t go through him. He suffered severe internal injuries and lost over 500 milliliters of blood. Crump told reporters that Feast died before he arrived at the hospital.
Crump cited the accounts of Feast’s neighbors who witnessed the incident, who claimed that Santos shot Feast as he was running away. They said that while Santos called out Feast’s name, he never instructed him to stop running or to put up his hands. According to Crump, they also alleged that the officer kicked Feast while he was on the ground.
Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset has said that investigators in his office have told him that body camera footage of the shooting shows Feast aiming his gun at Santos before running off. Trochesset adds that while he hasn’t the video for himself, the description he’s been given alleges that Feast ran towards the officer with a gun before turning around and fleeing. Feast allegedly dropped a 9mm pistol in the street and EMS workers found a .45 pistol in his clothing.
Crump has filed a request with the sheriff’s office to allow the family to view the body camera footage and for the official autopsy to be released. Lakeisha Feast, Joshua’s mother, told CBS that she would like to see the video before his funeral on Friday for her own “peace of mind.”
Trochesset has said the video wouldn’t be released to the public as it’s evidence in an ongoing investigation. The results of that investigation will then be sent to the Galveston County District Attorney’s office who will decide if charges should be filed against the officer. It should be noted that this is not the first time Officer Santos has been at the center of controversy.
From CBS News:
Crump has said Santos is the same officer seen in a video showing a different incident during a 2013 arrest in Galveston in which a group of officers is seen beating and kicking a Black man and holding his head underwater along a beach. CBS News has not confirmed that Santos is one of the officers in the video. Crump said Santos was working as a Galveston police officer at the time, and a federal lawsuit filed in 2014 over the incident names Santos as one of the defendants. Santos denied allegations of excessive force in the lawsuit, which was later dismissed.
Santos resigned from the Galveston Police Department in December 2013, according to the Galveston County Daily News, but a department spokeswoman didn’t have a reason for the resignation.
The La Marque Police Department has not clarified whether Santos is still employed by the department or if he has faced any disciplinary action for the shooting. During the press conference, Crump said that if Santos had been fired from the force, Feast would still be alive and his two children would still have their father.
“I just feel like my son shouldn’t be dead and the officer should be held accountable,” Lakeisha Feast told CBS. “My grandkids should still have their father here. It’s very hurtful.”