Friend of Texas man shot by police wants public's attention

AP News
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Posted: Feb 10, 2016 10:17 PM
Friend of Texas man shot by police wants public's attention

DALLAS (AP) — The friend of an unarmed man fatally shot by a San Antonio officer said Wednesday he will try to keep a spotlight on a case that police are still investigating.

"Right now, all we can do is keep rallying and asking for justice," said Alvin Perry, who held a rally this week for Antronie Scott and says he'll plan another in coming weeks.

Scott was fatally shot last week as officers tried to serve two felony warrants for his arrest. Police said Officer John Lee mistook a cellphone that Scott was holding for a weapon and fired.

"In this climate these days regarding officer-involved shootings, it's very, very important that we get it right the first time and that we're transparent about it as well," Police Chief William McManus said Friday, the day after the shooting.

McManus said the shooting "happened very, very quickly" and that there was no video of the incident, though there is audio. Lee's patrol car was positioned such that the dashboard camera didn't capture the shooting and Lee wasn't wearing a body camera. The department expects a shipment of body cameras ordered earlier to arrive in coming weeks.

Lee and another officer were called to the scene by undercover officers to assist in arresting Scott on two warrants, one for being a felon in possession of a firearm and one on drug possession. Police say Lee approached Scott as he stepped from a car, telling the 36-year-old to show his hands. Scott spun around quickly with something in his hand and Lee, fearing for his life, fired the fatal shot, McManus said.

Scott previously served time in prison for possession of a controlled substance and bribery. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice says he was on parole at the time of the shooting.

Police are expected to turn their investigation over to the Bexar County district attorney's office, which will review the evidence and determine whether to present it to a grand jury.

Scott's wife was in the car at the time of the shooting and "was devastated," said her attorney, Thomas J. Henry, who said his client plans to sue the city and the officer. He would give no further details on what his client saw and said she was not giving interviews.

The case has triggered a reaction from some in the community, with people at Perry's rally wearing T-shirts with slogans that included "I am an endangered species" and "Will I be next?" Strong words also came from the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and the editor of a community newspaper.

In a news conference following the shooting, the editor, Stephanie Zarriello, complained about police secrecy, likening it to "Ku Klux Klansmen with hoods, they do everything they can in order to protect their identities." Scott's family members appeared at the Saturday news conference but didn't speak. Zarriello said her publication was "looking into" publishing the names and address of all San Antonio police officers "in order to protect the community."

Her boss later said they never had plans to do that. Torino Logan, the owner of the San Antonio Observer, said that while San Antonio police did quickly release the officer's name, he said that "a lot of times" law enforcement agencies don't.

The ACLU of Texas said after Scott's shooting that law enforcement agencies across the nation "have some serious soul-searching to do." Citing the Scott shooting and that of another unarmed man in Austin a few days later, Executive Director Terri Burke said in a subsequent statement, "It's clear that officers whose first instinct is to reach for their guns pose a threat to communities of color." Both victims were black, as was the officer in Austin. Lee is white.

Perry, who runs a San Antonio community group, said he was disappointed that only about 60 people attended Monday's rally. "I don't want this to be missed," he said.

"It's happening everywhere. It's a black problem. It's a white problem. It's a Hispanic problem. It's become these citizens against the police," he said.