AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorneys for the Austin police officer who shot and killed Alex Gonzales in January criticized the Wednesday release of the dashcam and bodycam video.
Luis Serrato was the responding on-duty Austin police officer who shot and killed Gonzales after off-duty officer Gabriel Gutierrez shot him first during a “road rage incident” where Gutierrez said Gonzales pointed a gun at him. Serrato’s body camera footage was among those released Wednesday.
Serrato’s attorneys sent an open letter Tuesday to interim Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon and Travis County District Attorney José Garza asking them not to release the video.
“Releasing video footage under the guise of transparency, in this manner and at this time, is completely counterproductive to the overriding goal of maintaining fairness in our justice system and ensuring public confidence that the system worked properly,” the attorneys wrote. “There is an appropriate time for evidence to be released, but [Wednesday] is not that time. You are damaging the legal process.”
APD was supposed to release the dashcam and bodycam footage of the shooting within 60 days of the Jan. 5 incident, according to city policy, but failed to do so. That would have been March 6. Wednesday marks 113 days since the shooting.
Austin Police said the weeklong winter storm that hit in mid-February delayed the release.
Serrato’s attorneys instead called on DA Garza to show transparency in his own processes, asking him to “record every word spoken” during the grand jury review to show the community he presented the case fairly.
The Austin Police Association said it had reviewed the video and said it hoped Gonzales’ family can “one day find closure,” adding ” we feel for his loved ones and we understand their pain.”
“We also hope that our members can be treated fairly while this case goes through the Travis County criminal justice system,” it wrote. “The APA hopes that our members are never put into a position to have to use deadly force ever again, but we sadly know that this is not a situation of if it will happen again but when. The APA believes that our officers have a right to defend themselves and others and we firmly stand with Officers Gutierrez and Serrato.”
Serrato has been with APD for two years. Gutierrez has been in the department for five years. Both are on administrative leave.