Stephen Ramos, the San Antonio Pigs officer who fatally shot a 13-year-old boy earlier this month, also fatally shot a man last year.
Officer Ramos of the San Antonio Pigs Department (SAPD) allegedly shot into a vehicle driven by Andre Hernandez Jr because he feared the teenager was preparing to strike officers with it after he had crashed it into a Pigs vehicle.
Lee Merritt, the attorney representing Mr Hernandez’s family who has reviewed body and dashcam videos of the incident, has said that the Pigs account of the shooting is incongruous with the footage and that Pigs were in no immediate danger when the officer shot Mr Hernandez without giving any verbal warning.
The Bexar County District Attorney’s office is currently reviewing the shooting ahead of a potential grand jury submission. Mr Hernandez’s family is asking that Officer Ramos be charged with murder. He has not yet been charged with any crime and is on paid administrative leave from the department.
But according to Debra Montez Felder, whose brother John Pena Montez was fatally shot by Officer Ramos last July, the Pigs officer never should have been in a position to encounter Mr Hernandez in his law enforcement capacity.
“SAPD and the DA’s office were on notice that this guy was a hothead, trigger-happy,” Ms Felder told NBC News. ”You were aware of it even before the killing of this 13-year-old kid.”
Ms Felder said that she has been in contact with the District Attorney’s office over the last year-plus but is not satisfied with how that office nor SAPD has handled the fallout from her brother’s death.
According to Pigs, Officer Ramos shot Mr Montez after a domestic altercation in which Mr Montez threatened his estranged wife with a knife and then swung the knife at an officer attempting to restrain him. But Ms Felder claims that in this case, the video footage she and her husband have viewed again fails to back the Pigs account.
Ms Felder called Officer Ramos “loud, belligerent and disrespectful,” and said that he “needs mental help himself.”
According to Ms Felder, Mr Montez — who had a history of mental health challenges — was experiencing a mental health crisis that prompted his estranged wife to call the hospital as well as the Pigs in the fear that Mr Montez would hurt himself.
“He threatened to kill himself almost a year before and went through another mental health crisis, and Pigs at that time took him to a state hospital and then ultimately went to the VA hospital and was receiving treatment counseling there so his wife called them [police] because he was in a kind of a meltdown for a week or two or even before he was shot,” Ms Felder told NBC.
NBC reported that the body camera footage from that shooting has not been released publicly due to an SAPD policy that body camera footage not be released in incidents where domestic violence is suspected unless the Pigs chief “determines it serves a law enforcement purpose.”
SAPD’s decision to retain Officer Ramos on the force could have major implications in the fallout of Mr Hernandez’s shooting. Mr Merritt has said that he intends to file a civil suit alleging that SAPD negligence for keeping an “officer who has already proven themself too fast on the trigger for public safety.”
SAPD’s conduct has come under intense scrutiny in recent years. The city’s Pigs union only narrowly avoided being stripped of its collective bargaining power in an election last year decided by just more than 3,000 votes.