Vindicated! Texas officer cleared by grand jury after shooting wanted felon who pointed gun at him

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HOUSTON, TX – A Galveston County grand jury has refused to indict La Marque police officer Jose Santos for fatally shooting a man who pointed a gun at him while running away last year.

In December 2020, 22-year-old Joshua Feast was a suspect in multiple shootings and had arrest warrants for felony evading and felon in possession of a firearm.  The police had tracked him to a residence on Pirtle Street on the night of December 9.

Officers called Officer Santos to the scene to identify Feast before attempting to make an arrest.

As Feast arrived around 11 p.m., Officer Santos observed him leaning into the passenger side of a vehicle.

Body camera video released by police shows Officer Santos arriving on the scene. As he pulls up, Feast can be seen running across the road in front of the officer’s patrol vehicle.

Officer Santos exited his patrol vehicle and drew his weapon. Feast continued to run when Officer Santos fired one shot, striking Feast in the back.

Officer Santos caught up to Feast and observed him laying on the ground wounded in a driveway of a residence. He immediately requested backup units and medics.

Officer Santos radioed:

“First unit to get here, I need you to recover the gun. He dropped it just outside of a Dodge Charger.

“It is somewhere on the ground. He pulled out of his waistband.”

He then asked his back up to “step it up” to the scene as a crowd of people formed and started screaming and shouting at the officer, clearly upset that Feast was shot.

Feast later died of his wound at a local hospital.

At a news conference Tuesday, Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady said the shooting was justified:

“I believe the evidence supports that it was justified. And I believe that the decision that the grand jury made today was correct and just.”

Galveston County Sheriff’s Lt. Mel Villareal went through the body camera video explaining the reasoning for the decision. In the video, although difficult to make out, Feast can be seen holding a gun as he runs.

The Sheriff explained that, even if Feast did not mean to aim the gun at the officer, it still posed a deadly threat:

“The hand that held the firearm that officer Santos had already seen was now raised again and pointing in his direction.”

At the 30 second mark on the video, the gun can be clearly seen falling to the ground from Feast’s hand.

Officers located a loaded 9mm Taurus pistol at the scene. A loaded Smith & Wesson Springfield .45-caliber handgun fell from his clothing in the ambulance.

 

When civil rights attorney Ben Crump released findings of an independent autopsy showing Feast was shot in the back, civil unrest and protests followed.

Crump, who is representing the family, called for Officer Santos to be fired.  The attorney claimed that Feast was defenseless when he was shot:

“He was a defenseless man who was running away.

“There was no reason for [Santos] to shoot and kill this young man, who had only turned 22 three weeks ago.”

After the grand jury ruling was announced, Crump called the decision “devastating” to the family and community. He also said Officer Santos had a “history of brutality,” because of a 2013 lawsuit filed against him claiming he used excessive force while working for the Galveston Police Department.

“It is a disturbing failure of the La Marque Police Department that Santos was allowed to join their ranks.”

The lawsuit was dismissed by United States Magistrate Judge John R. Froeschner. The judge wrote in his decision:

“Since it is clear that any alleged use of excessive force occurred during Davis’ arrest and not during any subsequent pretrial detainment, his only remedy is under the Fourth Amendment… No amount of discovery will support Davis’ claim under the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The weekend following the shooting, dozens of demonstrators marched from a local food market to the steps of La Marque City Hall. Protesters also demanded the firing of La Marque Police Chief Kirk Jackson along with Officer Santos.

District Attorney Roady cited the intense community interest in the case as the reason for the press conference following the grand jury decision:

“This was a high-profile shooting; it drew a lot of scrutiny and public attention. And we wanted to make sure that at the end of this investigation, we provided the public with as much information as we could by law provide you and answer any questions as much as we can…

“So that the public can have confidence that the investigation was thorough and just, and the right result happened.”

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Criminal Jacob Blake files ‘excessive force’ lawsuit against officer who shot him – even though cop was cleared

March 27, 2021

 

KENOSHA, WI – Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed after a police officer shot him in the back last August in Kenosha, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the officer who shot him due to him allegedly using excessive force.

The case, filed on March 25th in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, names only one defendant: Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey.

Blake sustained “catastrophic, permanent injuries” as a direct result of Officer Sheskey’s conduct, according to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages as well as punitive damages, attorney’s fees, as well as other compensation.

Blake’s legal team includes high-profile civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who has worked with numerous families of alleged victims of police brutality and most notably assisted the Floyd family in reaching a $27 million civil settlement with the city Minneapolis.

When referencing the civil case pertaining to Blake, Crump stated:

“Nothing can undo this tragedy or take away the suffering endured by Jacob, his children, and the rest of the Blake family. But hopefully today is a significant step in achieving justice for them and holding Officer Sheskey answerable for his nearly deadly actions — actions that have deprived Jacob of his ability to walk.”

Back in January, it was determined by prosecutors that Officer Sheskey actions during the incident did not amount to a criminal act, and thus no charges were filed against the officer. Furthermore, the state had opted to not file any criminal charges against Blake either.

Currently, Officer Sheskey is still employed with the Kenosha Police Department, but he’s reportedly on administrative leave at this time.

Officer Sheskey fired seven shots at point blank range as Blake walked away from him and towards the driver’s side of a parked vehicle, according to the 19-page complaint filed with the courts.

According to the lawsuit, six of those rounds penetrated Blake’s body, with at least one severing his spinal cord and “instantly rendering his fully seated body limp upon impact.”

At the time of the incident, officers were deployed to the area for what was originally deemed as “family trouble” as Blake was leaving a party for his son’s eighth birthday following a verbal altercation between two women.

Officers had reportedly approached Blake as he was loading one of his sons into a Dodge SUV’s backseat.

Police at the time were attempting to place Blake under arrest for an outstanding warrant related to sexual assault. Months after the shooting incident, prosecutors opted to drop the charges related to the alleged sexual assault.

Just about all the facts relevant to the August incident have already been made public, and while misinformation was swirling initially after the officer-involved shooting, it was later found out that Blake was also in possession of a knife during the incident.

In fact, Blake even admitted in an interview in January that he was in possession of a knife during the incident. With that in mind, it’s without question that the topic of Blake being armed while encountering officers during the incident is going to be brought up during litigation. 

Also, while Blake’s lawsuit hones in on the aspect of the incident where Officer Sheskey discharged his firearm and shot him, a proper review of the evidence in the case is going to also require examining the numerous times Blake disobeyed lawful commands administered by police prior to the shooting.

Even if Blake’s lawsuit winds up being successful, it’s unclear what assets that the 31-year-old police officer would have access to that can be weighed into a potential favorable judgement for the plaintiff.

At the end of the day, if the lawsuit actually goes to trial (which 95% of lawsuits never do), it’s a genuine toss-up on whether Blake or Officer Sheskey is going to be named as the majority-culpability owner of the incident that resulted in Blake’s injuries. 

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