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San Antonio

Family Of Darrell Zemault Sr. To View SAPD Body Cam Footage 5 Months After Fatal Police Shooting

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Courtesy of Celeste Brown
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Darrell Zemault Sr. was killed by a San Antonio police officer during an attempted arrest in September. Nearly five months later, his family will be allowed to view the body cam footage from the fatal encounter.

Police officers attempted to arrest Zemault over two outstanding warrants on Sept. 15, when officers claim he tried to take one of their guns. Seeing this, another officer shot Zemault in the back once, killing him, according to the SAPD report. However, a neighbor claims that Zemault was shot as he was walking into his home to call a lawyer. Zemault’s family and a number of local activists have been demanding the release of body cam footage from the shooting since September.

Celeste Brown, Zemault’s goddaughter and a local activist involved in Black Futures Collective and Defund Police SA, said it took contacting a city council member, making an open records request and launching a petition that received over 2,000 signatures before they were granted permission to view the body cam footage.

A response to an open records request the family received on Jan. 22 showed that City Manager Erik Walsh had asked an unidentified City Council Member if they wanted to view body cam footage of the incident just a day after the shooting, on Sept. 16.

“That, for us, obviously ignited a bit of anger just because we have been asking for this footage since the day he was murdered and this is something that was being readily handed over to City Council,” Brown said.

After Zemault’s family contacted District 1 City Councilman Roberto Treviño, he found out from the city attorney that all that was needed to view the footage was a request from the next of kin.

“As someone whose contact information is readily available to everyone, from the mayor to [City] Council to even City Manager Erik Walsh, I’m just wondering why that wasn’t made clear to us when we’ve been publicly asking,” Brown said. “I say this to make very clear that SAPD didn’t all of the sudden decide to just call us, but they called after Roberto Treviño talked to the city attorney who I guess then in turn had the SAPD detective reach out to [Zemault’s] legal next of kin, which is his oldest daughter.”

Brown said that as of now, SAPD is only allowing the next of kin plus one other person to view the footage, and she and Zemault’s oldest daughter are pushing for the rest of his biological children to be able to view the footage as well.

Brown said the family has had to put their grief on hold.

“It’s really difficult to mourn the loss of a loved one when they’ve been murdered by the police. They were already painting a narrative about him from the moment he was shot,” Brown said. “There’s really no closure, no ability to start the grief process when you’re spending the majority of your time trying to defend who he was.”

The family will continue to seek justice for Zemault, regardless of when they see the body cam footage, according to Brown.

“Our next steps remain the same, right, which is to hold SAPD accountable for the murder, period. Because at the end of the day, you know, he was shot in the back,” Brown said. “Because as far as we know, the people involved in his murder returned back to work.”

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