Grand jury declines to indict Texas officer in killing

KILLEEN, Texas — A grand jury in Texas has declined to indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Black man who rushed toward him during a mental health call.

The case was presented Wednesday to a Bell County grand jury, which declined to indict Killeen police Officer Reynaldo Contreras, police said Friday.

Contreras, a five-year veteran of the department, fatally shot 52-year-old Patrick Lynn Warren in January.

Family members have said that the day before Warren was killed, a Bell County mental health deputy had taken him to a hospital. But, the family said, when he returned home the next day, his psychiatric issues continued.

Police have said that Warren was “emotionally distressed” when Contreras arrived.

Body camera footage shows Warren waving his hands as he walks into his yard, toward Contreras, who tells him to get on the ground. Contreras then uses his stun gun. Warren gets back up and begins again advancing toward Contreras, who warns Warren to “lay back” and that he’ll shoot him before firing.

Lee Merritt, an attorney representing Warren’s family, said Friday that family members of Warren, who were there the day he was killed, should have been called to testify before the grand jury.

Merritt said Contreras responded to the call “with this militarized default.”

Police have said that Contreras had had mental health training, but Merritt said it “obviously was insufficient to deal with an unarmed man in his pajamas on his front lawn.”

Merritt said the U.S. Department of Justice has opened up an investigation into the case. The Justice Department did to immediately return a call seeking comment.

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