HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - The family of a man killed by a Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy has joined forces with activist group, FIEL Houston, to demand the immediate release of bodycam video in a push to get justice for Marcelo Garcia.
"We are asking for the release of bodycam footage, so that the family, the community, and the attorneys can come to their own resolve," said Cesar Espinosa, FIEL Houston Executive Director in a press conference with the family Monday.
Garcia, 45, was shot and killed by a Harris County Sheriff’s deputy outside of his east Houston home on April 14 after his wife made a call for assistance due to his mental health crisis.
SIGN UP FOR FOX 26 HOUSTON EMAIL ALERTS
The family’s attorneys spoke at the press conference saying they hope the deputy’s bodycam video will show whether or not Marcelo Garcia was wielding a knife the night he was shot and killed by a deputy.
"We do not know if a knife was wielded," said attorney Eric Zehnder. "It’s the family’s position there was no knife. This question can be quickly answered by turning over the bodycam."
Neighbor surveillance video shows Garcia running after the deputy as the deputy runs backwards with gun drawn. The deputy then fires shots at Garcia, and he falls. The video’s grainy quality doesn’t reveal whether anything was in Garcia’s hands. The surveillance video shows Garcia’s wife and daughters running up to him screaming seconds after he is shot. They sat with the rest of the family in attendance at the press conference Monday, at times wiping tears and hugging.
Sheriff’s deputies told FOX 26, a knife was recovered from the scene and Garcia was holding that knife when he was killed. Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted on Thursday, "We will release body camera video as soon as we’re able to do so without hindering the investigation."
But the family said they also want to know why Garcia was left to die with no help from paramedics.
"After the shooting, there’s no excuse for not rendering any aid to him," said Zehnder.
The attorneys say the family did not call 911 the night Garcia was in crisis. They say they called a number they’d been given for a mental health unit, Instead a regular deputy showed up.
"Marcelo’s family reached out to the Harris County mental health unit for assistance," said attorney Bianca de Lachica. "A solo law enforcement officer should never have been sent to respond to that call."
FOR THE LATEST NEWS UPDATES, DOWNLOAD THE FOX 26 NEWS APP
The sheriff’s office has said they only have nine crisis intervention units, and that night, they just didn’t have enough mental health professionals on hand.
"Let’s ask and hold Sheriff Ed Gonzalez accountable," said Jessica Garza, Garcia’s sister. "He can’t continue telling us that they’re short staffed over and over."
Deputies say every officer on the force is trained for mental health scenarios.
"They have to go through what’s called a 40-hour crisis intervention training," said Sgt. Jose Gomez with Harris County Sheriff’s Office. "It talks about mental health disorders, mental health issues, the history of CIT, de-escalation techniques, and we also have a day of scenarios and practicals on how to de-escalate, how to recognize crisis."