A 52-year-old unarmed Black man was shot to death by a police officer, in front of his home with family members present, during what was portrayed as a “mental health check.”
The shooting, which took place in Killeen, Texas on Jan. 10, has captured the attention of national civil rights attorney Lee Merritt, who is seeking justice for the family. The video below (trigger warning: violence) was edited together from a combination of Ring doorbell video and cell phone video, showing Patrick Warren’s last moments.
According to KCEN-TV, the incident started when members of Warren’s family called police to ask for a mental health professional when they noticed changes in Warren’s behavior.
Then, as Merritt told KCEN, the family was told a specialist wasn’t available, so a police officer came to the house instead.
As the video shows, the officer—five-year Killeen Police Department veteran Reynaldo Contreras— comes to the door and then announces he is coming into the house.
(The video is made even more surreal by showing snow in the front yard, as it was a rare snowy day in the Central Texas town 75 miles north of Austin, best known as the location of the Fort Hood U.S. Army base.)
Merritt said Warren then asked the officer to leave, which he does. The video then cuts to Warren walking out of the house waving his arms at the officer. The officer can be heard telling Warren to get on the ground but Warren keeps walking toward him.
Warren walks out of the video’s vantage point; KCEN reported it sounded like a taser was being deployed but was apparently not effective. The video—which was shared Monday on the Reddit r/PublicFreakout subreddit—then cuts to Warren getting back up and continue toward the officer. Someone from the house can be heard telling Warren to sit down, and asking the officer not to shoot him.
Then, gunshots are fired out of view of the camera.
Merritt contends that the officer shot Warren once, then pointed the gun at Warren’s wife, telling her to get back. Merritt said the officer then fired his weapon at Warren again.
Warren died at a nearby hospital shortly after.
“A mental health call should not be a death sentence,” Merritt told Houston TV station KTRK-TV, which also covered the incident.
Killeen Police told KCEN the officer is currently on administrative leave, a standard step in an officer-related shooting, with Texas Rangers leading the investigation. The family is calling for Contreras’ immediate arrest, however, noting that there is “more than enough probable cause” to warrant it.
Warren’s son, Patrick Jr., started a GoFundMe page to pay for his father’s funeral expenses; it has raised more than $50,000 as of Monday evening.
As KCEN reported, Warren’s son said he had a life insurance policy but that it had expired three months ago. He also said Warren was released from his job due to pandemic-related issues.