New Video Shows Texas Police Shooting Man With His Hands In The Air

A Hispanic man in San Antonio is dead, and law enforcement officials have spent the past six days trying to explain why sheriff's deputies shot and killed him even though video shows the man standing with his hands up before he was shot.

Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau said Thursday that a second video of the shooting is being analyzed, and that Gilbert Flores, 41, can be seen holding an object in his hands that officials say deputies Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez believed was a knife. After more than a year of well-documented police killings that have led to only a handful of criminal charges, the department's investigation and decisions will be scrutinized closely.

The first video, which was videotaped by a passing driver and aired by local TV station KSAT, clearly showed Flores holding his hands in the air several feet from two officers and collapsing on the ground after the sound of gunshots. The video was shot from enough of a distance that it is impossible to see whether Flores had anything in his hands, and it shows only the last few minutes of the fatal encounter.

The killing occurred after the two deputies responded to a domestic-violence report, with the deputies saying that Flores resisted arrest. Although there was a reason for the officers to be at the house, official police narratives can often be incomplete, if not misleading or downright false. For example, the initial report on the death of Walter Scott, the unarmed South Carolina man who was shot in the back by Officer Michael Slager in April included many details that were directly contradicted by a video of the shooting. And supporters of Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer who can be seen on video using a fatal chokehold on Eric Garner, said repeatedly that Garner might still be alive if he had not "resisted" officers who restrained him and ignored his pleas for medical help.

The Bexar County sheriff's department's first response to news of the video was clumsy and tone-deaf; though Pamerleau did confirm that officials were looking into the shooting, the department also posted a comment on its Facebook page saying that KSAT's decision to air the video was "unethical and sad."

The FBI has opened an investigation into whether Flores' civil rights were violated, and Pamerleau has said that her office would cooperate.
Advertisement