SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A Texas sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a troubled Black veteran last week near San Antonio also shot and killed a man suffering from a mental health crisis 10 years ago.
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office identified John A. Rodriguez, 52, a 14-year member of the force, as the deputy who fired the shot that killed a knife-wielding 30-year-old Damian Daniels on Aug. 22 as he and two other deputies struggled to detain Daniels for mental health treatment.
The San Antonio Express-News reported in September 2010 that Rodriguez fatally shot Jack Burney Butler, a 35-year-old man depressed over losing a job. On Thursday, Sheriff Javier Salazar said he saw no “discernible pattern” to the fatal encounters.
“It was 10 years ago, and I’d venture to say that this same deputy has been involved in hundreds of similar calls since then, and there hasn’t been a discernible pattern that I can see,” Salazar told the Express-News.
Also Thursday, after meeting with Daniels’ family, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said that he would refer the case to the county grand jury after his office and Salazar’s complete their investigations.
Sheriff’s records show Daniels was having a mental crisis last week and made four calls to the sheriff’s office within 25 hours.
On Aug. 22, deputies and Daniels spent a half-hour talking on his front porch until they determined that he posed a danger to himself and others and tried to detain him for “mental health treatment,” Salazar said.
“What complicated the situation here is he was armed (with a knife) and did not intend to come along easily by the looks of what I’ve seen on the (body camera) video, and so they attempted to disarm him,” the sheriff said.
In the ensuing struggle, one of the deputies — later identified as Rodriguez — fired two shots, killing Daniels, Salazar said.
Civil rights lawyer Lee Merritt, who has been retained by the Daniels family, said Daniels was having his first mental health crisis and was paranoid at the time deputies faced him, but he was not suicidal. He has called for the release of the body-camera video footage so the family can learn all of what led up to the shooting.
However, he said it was clear that Daniels was at home legally armed and had committed no crime. The deputies could have left when Daniels refused to comply, he said.
“The failure to comply to a lawful police officer command when they are there for a wellness check should not be a death sentence,” Merritt said.
He also said he and the Daniels family refused a sheriff’s office request to meet with them.
“You don’t meet with a family after you say your officers did a great job executing a family member,” Merritt said.