Family attorney responds to KPD video release in officer involved shooting
KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) - The high-profile attorney for the family of Patrick Warren, Sr., 52, spoke out Wednesday following Tuesday’s release of the body camera footage of the Killeen Police officer who shot him, Reynaldo Contreras.
“This is one of the worst officer-involved shootings that I’ve seen,” said Lee Merritt.
During a virtual press conference Wednesday afternoon, Merritt said, after seeing Contreras’ body cam video, not much has changed from their side.
Merritt maintains the officer was not prepared to handle the call on Jan. 10 that resulted in Warren’s death.
KPD Chief Charles Kimble continues to defend his officers actions, saying “When I look at the video, I just wonder--if I had 1,000 hours of training, what could have stopped what we saw today? I just don’t know, I don’t know what magic words could have been said to de-escalate that.”
“If you don’t have those magic words, then you have to confront them,” said Merritt. “And that force cannot be taser/gun.”
Merritt said they were pleased by KPD’s release of Contreras’ body cam footage, an unprecedented move in an active Texas Rangers investigation.
He says the family released clips of Ring doorbell video last week for that purpose.
“We are thankful he (Kimble) felt the need to correct the record,” said Merritt. “Very often when law enforcement is in possession of body cam footage and all the evidence we need to get a clear picture of what happened, they withhold that evidence.”
Although law enforcement experts say the video overall supports the officer’s actions, Merritt disagrees, saying KPD isn’t properly trained to handle mental health calls.
“It’s not enough to play ‘cops and robbers’ with people in mental health crisis,” said Merritt.
Meritt says they’re continuing to push for Contreras’ arrest, and the City of Killeen can anticipate a federal, civil rights lawsuit.
“The lawsuit is a far second to criminal accountability,” said Merritt.
The family is waiting to see if Contreras gets indicted by a Bell County grand jury.
Kimble says Contreras tried to de-escalate the situation and used alternative methods, including a taser, before using lethal force, and he doesn’t believe additional training would have altered the outcome in this case.
“We think this is a dangerous police officer, but as the chief indicated, this just may be a dangerous police department,” said Merritt.
In addition to waiting on the results of a judge-ordered autopsy, Merritt said the family has ordered their own independent autopsy.
He said Warren will be laid to rest on Saturday, Jan. 30. (details pending).
Copyright 2021 KWTX. All rights reserved.