McALLEN, Texas (AP) — A police sergeant gave the order to "take him out" and an armed teen was fatally shot after he turned toward another student in the hallway of a Texas middle school, according to a report released by the state attorney general.
The new report provides the most detail yet on the death of Jaime Gonzalez, 15. He was shot Jan. 4 by Brownsville police who responded to a call about a student at the school brandishing a handgun.
Texas requires police to file a report with the attorney general's office within 30 days of someone dying in police custody. The report on Gonzalez was first obtained by The Brownsville Herald.
Two officers with semi-automatic rifles fired in response to the sergeant's order, and Gonzalez was hit twice, in the chest and the abdomen. He had been holding a realistic-looking pellet gun.
The report confirms officers' earlier statements that Gonzalez pointed the gun at them but also raises the possibility that he fired. The other student told investigators he believed Gonzalez had fired at police, and crime scene technicians recovered evidence that suggested Gonzalez fired at officers during an initial encounter near the school entrance. The report does not specify what the evidence was.
Police said Gonzalez did not appear to be intoxicated or exhibit mental health problems, but he repeatedly ignored their orders to drop his gun.
When police first peered through the school entrance and saw Gonzalez in the hall outside the office, the gun was tucked in his waistband. An officer approached, and Gonzalez pulled out a "black semi-automatic pistol, resembling a Glock handgun." Only later did police discover it was an air gun that fired pellets.
At one point, Gonzalez pointed the gun at his temple and then aimed it at police. One officer fired a shot high into the glass of the school's locked door. Officers believe Gonzalez fired too before retreating down a hallway. Officers turned down the hallway and saw Gonzalez at the end. Another student, identified only as "JG" in the report, was in a corner about 13 feet to Gonzalez's left.
"He (the student) was terrified because he was right against the wall, palms in touching the wall along with his entire body; his eyes looked really big as he looked back and forth between us and the suspect," Officer Raul Cazares wrote in his report.
Officers continued to order Gonzalez to put down the gun.
"I feared for the child against the wall and/or that the suspect would run off into the school and hurt the students or the staff," Cazares wrote.
As officers approached, Gonzalez swayed back and forth, sometimes with the gun at his side and once up toward his head.
Police Sgt. Albert De La Rosa wrote in his report that Gonzalez "was pacing, looking around with the gun still in his right hand. I again viewed the student by the door and was concerned that the subject (Gonzalez) was going to confront him, shoot him or take him hostage."
De La Rosa gave the order to "take him out" when Gonzalez turned toward the student. Cazares and officer Everardo Longoria each fired one shot.
Attorney Dale Kasofsky, who represents Gonzalez's parents, said Tuesday he had received little documentation of the incident and had not seen the custodial death report. Gonzalez's parents argued immediately after the shooting that lethal force was not necessary.
The Brownsville school district has requested an opinion from the state attorney general on whether it must provide The Associated Press with surveillance videos from the school that may show what happened.