The faint smell of burning wax and paper hung in the crisp evening air across a small yard on the University of the Incarnate Word’s campus Sunday night as more than 30 people gathered to remember friend, son, and student Robert Cameron Redus who was killed two years ago to the day by a UIW police officer.
“He was the kind of person that would stop everything and just be there to help you out,” said Jonathan Guajardo, a friend of Redus who served as UIW Student Body president at the time of the shooting.
Several friends and teachers spoke during the candlelight vigil organized by Guajardo at the “Cameron Redus Tree,” planted in his honor. Each shared a personal memory of Cameron – evoking both tears and laughter from the crowd. One UIW student shared a simple memory of him waving to her every single time he would pass her on the way to class on his bike. Another shared the adrenaline rush he and Cameron received when filming a music video of their friends’ band on stage in front of thousands of fans. Cameron was an honors student with extensive experience in multimedia production and was about to graduate with a bachelors degree in communications/convergent media from UIW.
“He had a great soul,” said Derrick Bryant, who grew up with Cameron in their hometown of Baytown, Texas. “Everybody got a piece of the ‘Cam Show.’ In some strange way, he’s here with all of us.”
Valerie Redus, Cameron’s mother, and her family were moved to tears several times throughout the evening in appreciation for the show of support at the candlelight vigil, which drew people from San Antonio, Baytown, New York, North Carolina, and beyond.
“The world is a different place because he was here,” Valerie said. “I’m thankful for all of you … Cam’s friend beyond death.”
Redus was killed by now-former UIW police officer Christopher Carter during a routine traffic stop that ended after Redus was struck with five of the six bullets fired by Carter. The Redus Family awaits word on a wrongful death lawsuit they filed against UIW and Carter in May 2014.
But as the candles burned down to their paper cuffs and tears welled up in grieving eyes, there was little talk of courtroom proceedings. Sunday’s brief, informal vigil was a celebration of Cameron’s life and the powerful influence he had on those he met.
It didn’t matter if Cam knew someone for two seconds or two years, Guajardo said, “he would bring you the same warmth and compassion.”
One of Cameron’s last class projects, “A Front Porch Perspective,” was a short, glossy magazine that outlined his passions and ethos. Mickey Redus, Cameron’s father, told the crowd to take his son’s words with them as they live their lives.
“Act now. Don’t put things off,” he said. “That doesn’t mean you shirk responsibility and wander out into the sunset. … It means you immerse yourself in life.”
It means camping in someone’s front yard instead of staying at a hotel, playing soccer with neighborhood kids instead of going where all the tourists go, Mickey said, using examples of Cameron’s travels in South America with his younger brother, Everett. “But you don’t have to go far to do that. … You can ‘travel’ wherever you are.”
Everett has set up a GoFundMe campaign to fund his trip here.
There is a “Cameron Redus Lab” at UIW, a classroom with 30 Macintosh computers and other audio/video equipment that students regularly use for their coursework. One of Cameron’s teachers, UIW Assistant Professor Joseph Lopez, said he often shares Cameron’s work with students.
“(Students and friends) have taken what has happened to Cameron and embedded it into their lives,” Lopez said, adding that he sees Cameron’s influence in his classmates, many of which have already graduated, and the incoming generation. “They embodied him … took his creativity and passion and helped selflessly spread it out.”
Mickey and Valerie, who live in Baytown, Texas, have retired and taken a hiatus from work, respectfully. Valerie is spending more time in San Antoino with family friends and Mickey is working on honing his skills as an artist.
“Everything that seemed so important before (Cameron’s death) just seems really trivial,” Mickey said.
He will soon be joining his son Everett for a few weeks while he’s on his year-long excursion to South America and beyond to spread some of Cameron’s ashes in places near and dear to their hearts.
“But we’re still waiting,” said Mickey after the candles had burned out and most had said their goodbyes and condolences. “I can’t believe after two years we still don’t really know much more than we did at the very beginning.”
The Redus family’s lawsuit, he said, is still in the discovery phase. That is, their attorney is still working with UIW and Alamo Heights Police Department to obtain evidence collected that night. He said they’re experiencing the latest in a string of delay tactics employed by UIW.
UIW Chancellor Denise Doyle has said that the several motions filed that challenged the merits of the lawsuit, which have taken more than a year to sort out in court, is purely the result of UIW “using the law to defend ourselves. That is our responsibility.”
A Bexar County grand jury issued a no bill, or a decision not to pursue criminal charges, against Carter in March. After which an audio recording of Carter’s encounter with an inebriated Cameron, taken by a microphone worn by Carter, was released to the public. Warning: the recording contains graphic language and content.
Despite the delays, the Redus Family has repeatedly said they will not drop the lawsuit.
“It makes getting any kind of closure difficult,” Mickey said.
But during the ceremony he stressed that he will always have five sons – Cameron is still remembered and is a part of his daily routine.
“I have four sons that live in Texas and one that just happens to live in heaven,” he said.
Read more about Cameron’s life, death, and the aftermath here.