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Bexar County DA Promises Grand Jury Review Of Damian Daniels Killing But Protesters Want More

Bexar County DA Drops Charges Against Misidentified Black Jogger, Bodycam Footage Released
Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio
Attorney Lee Merritt exits the Paul Elizondo Tower after meeting with the Bexar County DA.

Bexar County DA Joe Gonzales met with the family of Damian Daniels, a Black veteran shot and killed by sheriff's deputies last week. Hours after that meeting, dozens of protesters gathered outside the sheriff's office and demanded justice.

The confrontation between Daniels and police took place after his family called the Red Cross for assistance with a mental health crisis.

In a written statement, the DA’s office said it will refer the facts of the case to a grand jury when an investigation and review is complete. 

“Mental health is a crisis that needs to be addressed by people outside the criminal justice system,” Gonzales said in the statement. 

Daniels’ family didn’t speak to reporters gathered in front of the office. Their attorney, Lee Merritt, said they hoped the DA will be able to obtain an indictment against the deputies. 

“If the case goes to a grand jury and the Bexar County grand jury decides not to indict, I imagine that there will be an opportunity for a DOJ — or department of justice — review,” he said. “The Attorney General can take a turn at it. The FBI can be a part of that process as well. This family certainly won't accept that it was necessary for (the deputies) to murder Mr. Daniels in front of his home when they called for help.”

Damian Daniel's mother listens to Debbie Bush, the aunt of Marquise Jones, who was shot and killed by law enforcement in 2014.
Credit Dominic Anthony Walsh | Texas Public Radio
Damian Daniels' mother listens to Debbie Bush, the aunt of Marquise Jones, who was shot and killed by law enforcement in 2014.

He said the Bexar County sheriff’s office extended an invitation to meet with the family, which they declined. 

Merritt said Sheriff Javier Salazar’s statements justifying the officers’ actions were inappropriate. 

“We find that offensive. We find that absurd,” he said. “Those officers were called out by the family of Damian Daniels to get him help. A great job would have been to get him help, not to kill him.”

As the family walked away from the press conference, Debbie Bush — the aunt of Marquise Jones, who was shot and killed by law enforcement in 2014 — briefly spoke with Daniels' mother. Bush told her to call anytime. 

“It’s hard,” Bush told her. 

On Tuesday evening, dozens of protesters gathered at the sheriff’s office. They chanted, "Stop killing us!" and "Mental health is not a crime!"

Camille Wright, an organizer with Black Futures Coalition, said she hoped Daniels was the last name on the list of Black or Latino men that San Antonio protesters would ever have to chant.

“They can’t bring back Marquise Jones, Charles Roundtree, Norman Cooper, Bobby Joe Phillips, Jesse Aguirre ... they can’t bring back any of those people. They need to start holding those people accountable.”

Daniels was a combat veteran, and several veterans in San Antonio also called for change at the sheriff’s office in handling calls when veterans are involved.

Charles Jones, an attorney and Vietnam veteran, wanted answers. “We had a veteran who was killed in front of his house who served oversees," Jones said, "and he was killed not by Al-Qaeda, or a terrorist, but by a sheriff’s deputy. What happened?"

He wanted to know why mental health professionals were not sent out on similar calls.

The Tuesday protest was the latest in a series of demonstrations at the facility. Last week, protesters entered the office, and one person was arrested for criminal mischief.

On the same day, an off-duty deputy pepper sprayed protesters. Officials with the office’s Internal Affairs unit were investigating that incident.

Joey Palacios contributed to this report.
Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony.

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