Days after taking office, Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood reached out to the Baytown parents of slain University of Incarnate Word honors student Cameron Redus and then met with them for an hour last Friday.
Redus was fatally shot on Dec. 6, 2013 outside his off-campus apartment by UIW police officer Christopher Carter after he followed the student there and attempted to arrest him on a drunk driving charge. Carter’s account of how he came to shoot Redus five times, who was not armed, at close range was contradicted by the official autopsy.
Carter said he fired six times, missing once, as Redus charged him with an upraised fist. Carter said he feared for his life after struggling with Redus for several minutes and at one point losing control of his police baton and being struck by the student. The autopsy, however, shows that the two fatal shots came when Carter shot the student in the back and then again through the eye at a sharply downward angle.
“Based on the evidence released over the past year, we don’t see how there cannot be an indictment of Carter, the only question is whether it’s murder or manslaughter,” said Mark Hall, a close family friend of the Redus family who has served as their spokesperson ever since the fatal shooting of Cameron.
UIW officials have drawn a curtain of silence around the case and instructed administration and faculty not to discuss the case or the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family, according to UIW faculty and others who have spoken not for attribution with the Rivard Report.
The university has said in its answer to the lawsuit that Carter’s actions were defensible, and Carter was kept on paid administrative leave throughout 2014 even as UIW resisted efforts by the family, the media, and others to gain access to the officer’s audio recording of the confrontation that could shed light on the discrepancies between Carter’s version of events and the autopsy results.
LaHood was both empathetic and focused when they met with him, Valerie Redus told the Rivard Report in a Wednesday telephone interview. She and her husband, Mickey, left the meeting optimistic that justice finally will be done in the case.
“Mr. LaHood contacted us, and he was very forthright with us when we did meet,” Valerie said. “He has a plate full of things to do related to the investigation. He said he has a lot of questions and he’s going to be thorough. He wants to make sure he doesn’t bring an indictment unless he can win.
“We felt real good about the meeting,” she said. “He told us about his own brother dying in his arms. He knows what it’s like to lose a sibling. He was very sympathetic and he said if our boys ever need to talk with him he will make time to speak personally with them about his own experience.”
LaHood confirmed the meeting with the Reduses in a brief interview with KSAT-TV on Wednesday. He was much more circumspect in his television interview about what he told the Redus family and their attorneys.
“He told us it would be soon,” Valerie Redus told the Rivard Report. “I tried to pin him down, but he kept saying, ‘It will be soon. It will be soon.’ We felt so relieved.”
Carter finally resigned in December, although UIW officials did not disclose the resignation at the time and have not given any reason for it happening now.
A press conference held by Alamo Heights Police Chief Rick Pruitt the day after the Dec. 6, 2013 shooting also has come under scrutiny. Pruitt defended Carter and his version of events, apparently without conducting any independent investigation. A simple examination of Redus’ gunshot wounds would have cast doubts on Carter’s story. Pruitt has not spoken publicly about the case since the release of the autopsy report that also refuted his version of events.
The investigation, including the autopsy, was concluded many months ago, yet former District Attorney Susan Reed, who LaHood defeated in a stunning upset in the November general elections, made no attempt to bring the case before a grand jury in 2014. In an exit interview with one local television reporter she suggested the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri led local prosecutors to hold off on the case to avoid it being politicized, a statement that left many around the courthouse scratching their heads.
*Featured/top image: Nicholas “Nico” LaHood addresses supporters on election night on Nov. 4, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.