A little more than one year after he fatally shot University of the Incarnate Word honors student Cameron Redus in an off-campus confrontation outside the student’s Alamo Heights apartment, university police officer Christopher Carter has resigned.
The story was first reported by the Baytown Sun and reporter Eleska Aubespin in an online posting at midnight Thursday.
UIW confirmed the resignation to the reporter, but the university did not disclose the development at the time of Carter’s Dec. 10 resignation. It’s unknown if Carter’s departure was voluntary, or part of an agreed upon separation with the university. University officials also did not notify the Redus family or its attorneys, according to Mark Hall, a family friend and spokesperson.
“We do not know the circumstances and therefore really don’t have a comment about him choosing to resign,” Hall told the Baytown Sun reporter. “My own opinion is that his resignation doesn’t really have any impact on his actions. And the family’s position remains that Cameron’s death came at the hands of Carter and that he bears responsibility and we think the university bears responsibility because they were his employer.”
Carter’s resignation came two weeks after attorneys representing the Redus family in the unlawful death suit won a ruling in federal court in San Antonio that prevented UIW from moving the lawsuit from state to federal court, a legal maneuver that slowed down disposition of the lawsuit and could have given the university a more favorable legal venue in which to try the case.
Two legal experts have told the Rivard Report they expected UIW to offer the family an out-of-court financial settlement after losing its bid to move the case to federal court. Waiting until the grand jury rules, the experts said, was legally risky. An indictment of Carter would only strengthen the family’s hand in civil court, they said. It is not known if the two sides are engaged in settlement talks.
Carter had nine jobs with eight different law enforcement entities over seven years from 2004-2011, when he joined the UIW force, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. In several instances, he lasted less than one year before moving on to his next job. Until he was hired by UIW, he did not hold any of the jobs longer than 18 months. At least one other local university declined to hire Carter after reviewing his history of frequent job changes.
UIW officials have offered little comment on the Redus family’s wrongful death lawsuit against UIW and Carter, or the expected presentation of the case to a Bexar County grand jury case sometime early in the new year as newly elected District Attorney Nico LaHood takes office.
Carter shot Redus at close range five times in the early morning hours of Dec. 6 after the two engaged in a struggle outside the Treehouse Apartments as Redus exited his vehicle and attempted to reach his apartment. Carter, who was off-campus on an overnight shift food run to a local Whataburger, said he saw a vehicle weaving erratically as it was driven north on Broadway.
Carter decided to follow the driver, not knowing he was a UIW student, apparently following him one mile north on Broadway without turning on his flashing lights and making a traffic stop. Instead, Carter turned on his lights only as he pulled in behind Redus, who by then had safely reached home. University officials have since asserted campus police have the right to patrol off campus in Alamo Heights and exercise their duties as law enforcement officers, and that Carter’s decision to arrest Redus even though he arrived at his apartment complex was justified.
It will fall to prosecutors and the grand jury to try to determine exactly what transpired in the ensuing six minutes that culminated with Carter firing six shots at Redus, striking him five times.
At least one witness in the apartment complex said he heard Redus sarcastically ask Carter if he was going to shoot him. University officials and the Alamo Heights Police Department have refused to release an audio recording of the incident captured on the recording device Carter wore on his uniform. Carter’s police vehicle front-mounted video camera was not functioning. The vehicle’s rear-mounted video camera was functioning.
Carter said he attempted to arrest Redus on drunk driving charges, but was unable to restrain the student who resisted arrest and, at one point in the struggle, gained control of Carter’s police baton and began striking the officer. Carter apparently regained control of the baton, but said he feared for his life and drew his weapon and fired as Redus charged him with an upraised fist.
That account has been questioned by the Redus family, local media and many on campus. Carter is a large, overweight man whose fitness for duty has come into question in student forums. Redus was slightly built and had no record of violence or bad behavior. The autopsy did show Redus was drunk after an evening of end-of-semester bar hopping and celebration. He also had traces of marijuana in his system.
The autopsy appears to contradict Carter’s narrative of events, an account immediately supported by Alamo Heights police in a day-after press conference even though department personnel did not witness the incident, and apparently didn’t even examine the body in any detail.
Carter said he shot and killed Redus as he was charged by the student, but the coroner ruled that two of the five shots that would have been fatal did not strike Redus as Cater described. One was a shot that entered Redus from behind in his upper back and lodged near his heart. The other entered his eye at a sharp downward angle, exiting his lower neck. The two shots suggest Carter shot Redus once in the back and again as he stood over him.
Cameron, 23, a communications major and honor student, would have graduated in May, and family members later were presented with his degree and diploma. University officials declined requests to hold a memorial service on campus on the first anniversary of his death, instead hosting one the day before on Dec. 5. Several dozen friends and family members gathered on Dec. 6 for an evening candlelight vigil at Brackenridge Park.
The Baytown Sun article published today noted that an open letter written by UIW Chancellor Dr. Denise Doyle as the first anniversary passed acknowledged that Carter’s employment status, after a year of paid administrative leave, was being reviewed and would be resolved by year’s end.
“Given the length of time that the district attorney’s office file has been open and the impending one year anniversary of this tragic event, we are re-evaluating Carter’s employment status,” Doyle wrote.
“The Chancellor and other executive leadership met with the Student Government Association and heard from other constituents on this matter,” UIW leaders said. “We expect a decision to be forthcoming by the end of the year.”
*Featured/top image: Valerie and Mickey Redus (center) bow their heads in tearful prayer during a candlelight vigil on the one-year anniversary of Cameron Redus’ death. Photo by Scott Ball.