SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Ben Crump, the nationally-known civil rights attorney, joined Joshua Wright’s family members Monday afternoon to call for law enforcement to release video showing an officer shoot and kill Wright at a Kyle hospital on Dec. 12.
Wright was an inmate held on pre-trial detention for alleged unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. He was receiving medical treatment at Seton Hospital in Kyle when he tried to leave the emergency room and was fatally shot by a Hays County corrections officer, according to a press release from Crump. In a December statement from the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, officials said Wright assaulted the corrections officer before trying to escape the emergency room on foot.
“This police officer, we believe, used unnecessary, unjustifiable, excessive force in shooting Joshua Wright multiple times in the back while he was going away from him,” Crump, who represented the families of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, said Monday. “They say [Wright] was running away — he’s 300 pounds, shackled, with his pants falling down. He ain’t running nowhere.”
According to the Wright family’s attorney, Chevo Pastrano, Wright asked to use the restroom at the hospital, so he said the officer assigned to him removed his handcuffs but left shackles on his feet. While in the restroom, Pastrano said a “short scuffle and a push” happened between Wright and the officer before Wright attempted to run from the emergency room. Pastrano said the officer shot Wright at least six times, according to an independent autopsy the family requested.
Pastrano said they think Wright was in the hospital due to an issue with high blood pressure, but they are waiting on medical records for confirmation.
“We stand here because there is no excuse — there’s no reasonable explanation why a man in shackles should ever be fired upon even once. There are all kinds of less than lethal ways to stop a man from walking away from or shuffling away from or even attempting to run away from in shackles rather than shooting upon him,” Pastrano said. “We are here because we want to discover the truth. We want to get justice for Joshua, and the only way that we will be able to do that is by being able to view that video tape that everybody so desperately wants to view.”
Crump said he had been retained to work with Pastrano on this case.
The news conference Monday came as the Hays County Sheriff’s Office has yet to release body camera footage from the fatal shooting. A spokesperson for the agency said Monday there is no timeline available yet for the video’s release, adding that the Texas Rangers are now the lead agency on the ongoing investigation.
“There is no time table for its release. We are working with the TX Rangers as they are the lead agency. The footage has not been released due to the ongoing investigation. It is customary that video footage and other evidence be withheld during an open investigation to protect all parties involved in any incident.”Anthony Hipolito, Hays County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson
In late December, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra requested for the the video to be released within 10 days of the shooting.
Wright family attorneys said they submitted a Public Information Request for the footage, adding they’re ready to file a lawsuit if they need to for that footage. Pastrano also said they are talking with the hospital’s legal team to try to get their security footage of the incident.
KXAN also asked Ascension Seton for the security footage, or any comment on what employees there may have seen. However, the company said, “We are unable to comment on an active police investigation.”
A representative from the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) shared the organization will represent the officer in question because he’s a member of the group. Charley Wilkison, CLEAT’s executive director, released a statement Monday afternoon that read, “Mr. Crump represents a profiteering cottage industry that is paid to spread hatred towards law enforcement officers. CLEAT proudly honors its fiduciary duty to represent its union members.”
Wright’s mother, Beverly, described her son as “happy-go-lucky” and a “gentle giant” at Monday’s news conference.
“He struggled with a lot of things. He wasn’t perfect, but he was my son,” Beverly said. “Why did they have to kill my baby boy is what I want to know. I want to know why. If it was his fault, I can accept it, but show us the video.”