Texas grand jury does not indict policeman for fatal shooting of Mexican

Reuters News
Posted: May 18, 2015 2:47 PM

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas grand jury declined on Monday to charge a suburban Dallas police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Mexican national in another case that has raised questions about racial bias by U.S. police.

Ruben Garcia Villalpando, a married father of four, was shot twice in the chest on the side of a highway in February by Grapevine police officer Robert Clark. The shooting occurred following a brief chase.

Along with announcing the grand jury's decision, prosecutors on Monday also released a police dashcam video clip of the incident, which showed Villalpando raising his hands above his head as he walked unsteadily toward Clark, who repeatedly asked him to stop.

Villalpando was intoxicated at the time, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, citing the medical examiner's autopsy report.

His death triggered rallies calling for the officer to face prosecution for a shooting that protesters said was racially motivated. Demonstrators likened Villalpando's death to high-profile police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in New York City.

"We are very disappointed," said Villalpando’s brother-in-law Fernando Romero.

The video released by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office also showed Clark shouting profanities at Villalpando. At one point, Clark could be heard saying that Villalpando was trying to reach for something although video footage showed that Villalpando was standing still with his hands in the air.

The grand jurors were given complete and open access to all the evidence in the case, including cell phone videos and the dashcam video from Clark's vehicle, prosecutor Larry Moore, who led the state's presentation, said.

Prosecutors made no recommendation to the grand jury, Moore added. The grand jury heard from 13 witnesses, including Clark.

Grapevine police defended Clark, who has been with the force for less than a year, and it said in a statement that Clark "acted professionally and within law enforcement best practices."

Clark was placed on leave following the shooting but has returned to work in a desk job.

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the shooting death of Villalpando.

(Reporting by Marice Richter; Editing by by Jon Herskovitz and Eric Beech)