A screenshot from an August 2020 body cam video shows a Bexar County MP speaking to Damian Daniels before physical efforts began to hold him back. Daniels was shot dead by a proxy minutes later. Screenshot: Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
Trigger Warning: This story is one of the saddest depictions of a black man in mental crisis who recently died at the hands of law enforcement.
A Texas grand jury on Monday decided not to indict a sheriff’s deputy for the 2020 shooting of Damian Daniels, a black veteran who was going through a mental crisis at the time.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office was published a 27 minute video These include heartbreaking footage from Deputy John Rodriguez’s bodycam that ran for most of the altercation. It was Rodriguez who eventually shot and killed Daniels.
The video includes audio and a transcript of the 911 call in which Daniels’ brother said Daniels was “in a state of paranoia”, was hallucinating and had recently given three family deaths that may have triggered his episode.
Despite this information, the sheriff’s deputies replied without the help of psychologists. Rodriguez and another deputy begged Daniels for help while he stood motionless against a wall. There is a bump under his red T-shirt.
The video pauses briefly before turning it back on, just as the MPs grab Daniels and wrestle him to the ground. They shock him with tasers several times while again asking him for help and eventually telling him to stop reaching for his gun, which is not shown on the video.
Daniels has a frightened expression on his face and screams as he is being patted. A deputy yells: “Let go of the gun!” before two shots are fired. Daniels moans. The video ends. He died on the scene.
Root’s editorial team decided not to share the Bodycam video due to its traumatic nature.
On Monday, local prosecutor Joe Gonzales made the understatement of 2020 and released a press release saying the country needed to better serve people in mental crisis. according to the San Antonio Report. Gonzales also promised that any police shootout in his area of responsibility that results in serious injury or death will automatically be brought before a grand jury.
In the meantime, Daniels’ family is busy with the grand jury’s decision.
Report from San Antonio
Brendan Daniels, Damian’s brother, texted Monday that his family plans to release a statement soon. “We’re taking this time to think about our next step and work on moving the Damian case forward.”
The decision of the grand jury is made two weeks after that the Daniels family and activists gathered in the Bexar County courthouse to demand that the case be heard by a grand jury and that law enforcement be removed as first responders to emergency calls with low risk of mental illness.
This summer, the Daniels family called for Sheriff Javier Salazar to resign because he “material misrepresentations“By sharing still images captured from body camera recordings in the days after they were captured.
The family had seen the full record, but neither the sheriff nor the prosecutor released them. This month the Bexar County Commissioners Court approved a new policy requiring the county’s law enforcement agencies to release body camera footage within 10 days of a “critical incident”, like a proxy who shoots someone.