Three years after a University of Incarnate Word campus policeman fatally shot honors senior Cameron Redus in an off-campus traffic stop outside his Alamo Heights apartment, family, friends and supporters gathered for a Tuesday evening vigil.
The informal memorial service came one day before attorneys for the family and the university were set to meet before the Texas Supreme Court in the latest hearing in a long-running wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Redus family.
"Every day we think about Cameron," Mickey Redus, his father and a Baytown resident, told more than 40 people, their faces visible in the candlelight as they strained to hear his words on a windy evening amid passing traffic along Broadway in front of the university. Valerie Redus, Cameron's mother, stood silently by her husband as he spoke, her head bowed. "Every year there's a little fear that everyone else is moving on."
Those in attendance have not forgotten.
"You did a great job raising Cameron," said Aleah Rosales, one of Cameron's friends and classmates, as thousands of Christmas lights on UIW campus trees blinked in the background. "He had the ability to make people feel like (they) were important to him."
Rosales, 30, graduated from UIW in 2014 and said she has "moved on," in the sense that she's building a career in digital communications and living her own life to the fullest. Cameron's own words, through journals and school projects preserved by his parents and teachers, serve as a reminder that he, too, lived his life to the fullest, traveling with little more than backpack to some of the most remote reaches of the hemisphere.
“‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Act while you have the chance. Act now,” Cameron wrote.
He gave money to panhandlers, kind words to strangers, and time to people of all ages, family members said.
"He had a strong sense of right and wrong," Mickey said. "He didn't have a huge moral struggle ... if it was the right thing to do, he did it."
That's why people continue to show up, year after year, to celebrate Cameron's life, said UIW graduate Jonathan Guajardo, who was student body president when Cameron was killed in 2013.
"This tragic event, this horrible thing, happened to a person who was so great,” Guajardo said. "We're keeping his legacy alive ... he's still with us, he always will be."
Mickey and Valerie then left for Austin to attend the latest pre-trial hearing in the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against UIW and Carter in May 2014. University attorneys are arguing that UIW's police department should be considered a "governmental unit" and, thus, immune from any liability.
The high court typically takes anywhere from six to eight months to announce its decisions.
An autopsy confirmed that Cameron was drunk the night he was pulled over for erratic driving and then killed by Carter, who fired six shots at Cameron. One bullet struck his back. A graphic recording captured by a microphone in the officer's uniform confirmed the verbal and physical altercation that took place in the parking lot of his apartment building in Alamo Heights.
Joseph Lopez, who is teaching his last classes at UIW this year, remembers Cameron as a student with endless potential. On Tuesday he called on UIW to return to the tenants that the Sisters of the Incarnate Word set forth when developing the University – education, truth, faith, service, and innovation – "not just here (on campus) but legally (in the courtroom)."
With bowed heads and waning candles, the group closed the vigil with prayer and song. "Silent Night," 40 voices strong, floated over the campus in the crisp, winter air.