[Published on March 20, 2014]
The tragic off-campus shooting death of University of the Incarnate Word honor student Robert Cameron Redus by UIW police officer Chris Carter on Dec. 6 took another troubling turn Thursday with the release of autopsy and toxicology reports from the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. The reports show that two of the five bullets that struck Redus were lethal or potentially fatal.
Download the report here.
The entry and exit points – Carter shot Redus once in the back, and once in the left eye at a sharply downward angle – raise serious questions about Carter’s version of events after he pursued Redus north on Broadway in Alamo Heights to his off-campus apartment after allegedly witnessing reckless driving. Carter was turning into campus from a 2 a.m. food run to a nearby Whataburger when he said he spotted the speeding car strike a curb. Although he did not know the vehicle was driven by a UIW student, he turned on his overhead lights and pursued the driver.
The toxicology report showed that Redus was legally intoxicated with a blood alcohol content of .155 and his blood contained a faint trace of marijuana.
Carter shot Redus at close range after the UIW student resisted arrest and engaged him in a struggle and fight over the officer’s baton. The autopsy report provides details about each of the five shots from Carter’s weapon that struck Redus. One of the six shots Carter fired from his .40-caliber service weapon did not strike the victim.
Two of the shots, both rated lethal or potentially fatal by the coroner, raise serious doubts about Carter’s version that he shot Redus as the unarmed student charged him with an upraised arm and fist. The report does not attempt to identify the sequence of shots, but the two most lethal shots are inconsistent with Carter’s version of events.
“Gunshot #1” entered Redus’ left eye socket at close enough range to leave stippling, or powder burns. It exited nine inches lower than its point of entry through the victim’s neck, suggesting Carter was above the victim and pointing his weapon downward.
“Gunshot #3,” which also showed some degree of stippling, shows that Carter shot Redus in the upper back. The bullet severed his spinal cord and then struck his heart. This shot also traveled downward from its point of entry. Both shots likely would have resulted in Redus’ death.
The other three shots were not rated lethal. “Gunshot #2” hit Redus in the upper chest and injured his right lung. “Gunshot #4” struck and shattered his left elbow. “Gunshot #5” hit Redus in the right hip and exited his right buttock.
Redus was shot in the early morning hours Friday, Dec. 6. The autopsy was performed on Dec. 7. The toxicology report was made Jan. 9. Release of the reports came more than three months after the shooting. There has been no public statement by District Attorney Susan Reed and no information relating to grand jury consideration of the case.
Carter could face second degree murder charges if prosecutors decide he needlessly fired on Redus, causing his death. The grand jury could also decide not to charge Carter if it determines he genuinely felt endangered and acted in self-defense. Presumably, the circumstances surrounding the two potentially lethal shots that struck Redus from behind in the back and in the left eye will factor into the decision.
Redus, 23, was an honors student from a religiously conservative family in Baytown with no history of violence or trouble with the law. Other residents of the Treehouse Apartments, where he lived, reported hearing the confrontation between Redus and Carter. One witness heard Redus ask Carter, perhaps incredulously, if he was really going to shoot him. Then he did, five times at close range, resulting in Redus’ death before Alamo Heights police arrived at the scene. Carter, an itinerant officer who has held multiple law enforcement jobs – most of them for brief periods – remains on administrative leave.
A UIW administrator angered students at a March 5 campus public forum when he indicated Carter might return to work on the campus force in an administrative position, depending on the outcome of the investigation. Several students questioned Carter’s competency, citing his frequent job changes and his physical condition.
Carter appears to be obese in photographs taken in his time at UIW, and several students argued he was not capable of handling an encounter with Redus and preventing the situation from spinning out of control. Days after the forum, the Redus family – troubled by the direction of the case and the university’s position – released an open letter to UIW authorities.
The Redus family released a statement Thursday after the reports were released that addressed both the autopsy and toxicology report. That text follows:
Redus Family Response to the Release of Cameron Redus’s Autopsy and Toxicology
We would again like to express our appreciation for the love, support and interest in Cameron’s life and death. It’s difficult to express the comfort that we have found as a result of that ongoing kindness and concern.
We are devastated by information contained in the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Report. While the locations of the five shots that struck and killed Cameron were made public shortly after his slaying, the autopsy contained new details. We are stunned to learn that Cameron was shot in the back from a very close range. The report also shows that the shot to his eye was delivered at a downward angle, again from very close range. That knowledge coupled with information from the earlier police report indicating that Cameron died on his back with his legs underneath him has left us heartbroken and shaken to the core.
The information in the toxicology report indicates that Cameron made some poor choices on the night prior to his death, including consuming alcohol in excess. He apparently operated his vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. The Redus family does not condone his actions and is disappointed that Cameron made these choices. We are thankful that Cameron arrived safely at his apartment and legally and properly parked his vehicle without harming anyone. He had exited his vehicle and was walking to his home when the encounter began. He posed no risk to public safety risk at that point.
We are confident that had this encounter taken place on a public roadway and during a routine traffic stop that Cameron’s alleged response and the ultimate outcome of this event would have been different. Cameron’s family also agrees with the opinion expressed by law enforcement officials that the outcome would have been different had a backup officer been on the scene.
One aspect of God’s saving grace is that we are not defined by our mistakes. Cameron’s mistakes do not negate the amazing and productive life he lived nor the loving, encouraging and compassionate person that he was. While mistakes do bear consequences, the extreme and brutal results of Cameron’s encounter with Officer Carter far exceed the magnitude of his mistakes.
We continue to wait on justice to be done and we maintain our faith and trust in God’s amazing love, of which many of you have been the agents.
Sincerely and lovingly,
Mickey and Valerie Redus and sons