A Bexar County grand jury has issued a no bill, or a decision not to pursue criminal charges, against former University of the Incarnate Word police officer Christopher Carter in the December 2013 fatal shooting of honors student Robert Cameron Redus outside his off-campus apartment. The case has generated considerable controversy over Carter’s decision to give pursuit to Redus through Alamo Heights not knowing he was a UIW student, and his decision to resort to deadly force rather than allow Redus to enter his apartment or await backup to assist in an arrest.
Redus was shot five times by Carter in the early morning hours of Dec. 6 in a confrontation outside the student’s apartment after Carter followed him there because he said Redus appeared under the influence while driving recklessly north on Broadway. Tests later showed Redus was inebriated and had traces of marijuana in his system. Carter said he shot Redus after the student resisted efforts to subdue him and engaged the officer in a struggle for his baton and, after a struggle that took place over 13 minutes, charged Carter with an upraised fist.
The Redus family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against UIW and Carter and has repeatedly challenged the officer’s version of events. The Rivard Report also has published numerous stories focusing on the official autopsy report and an audio tape of the incident that contradict Carter’s version of events.
Brent Perry, lead attorney for the Redus family, released a statement Tuesday afternoon on the family’s behalf expressing their “disbelief and outrage at Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood’s failure to return any indictment” of Carter.
“Cases against law enforcement officers are never easy for a District Attorney. But the fact is Officer Carter shot an unarmed student who posed no physical threat to him. None. It is textbook manslaughter, if not murder, to use deadly force against someone the officer knows is unarmed. An officer is never justified in using deadly force when there is no probable cause to believe the suspect is dangerous,” stated Perry. “Even if District Attorney LaHood were not guaranteed a victory in the Courtroom, we expected him to indict and try an officer who broke the law in using deadly force.”
According to Perry, LaHood called him and the Redus family on Tuesday to share the grand jury’s decision.
Despite the no bill for Carter, Perry stated he is “confident that a jury in the family’s lawsuit will one day provide justice for Cameron that District Attorney LaHood failed to achieve.”
“All the evidence was presented to the grand jury,” Bexar County District Attorney Nico LaHood said in an interview. “Our role was to assist the grand jury in deciphering that evidence and then they came to their decision. The grand jury process is secretive, so I’m limited about what I can say. I can’t talk about how long it took to present the case or what witnesses we presented. That’s tough for me because I’m a transparent guy.”
Courthouse sources predicted Carter would not be indicted by the grand jury and said there was considerable pressure on LaHood to close the case without subjecting Carter, and indirectly, UIW, to a criminal trial. LaHood said in a later call to the Rivard Report Tuesday evening that he was not pressured in making his evaluation of the evidence and his office’s presentation of the case to the grand jury.
The Rivard Report published An Open letter to District Attorney Nico LaHood on Sunday, calling for release of the audio tape of the incident and a brief rear vehicle video tape taken as Carter pursued Redus through Alamo Heights to his apartment. LaHood said he read the open letter on Monday, but was not free to discuss the evidence. Much of that evidence remains unavailable to the media and the public more than 15 months after the incident.
“We appreciate the work of all involved in this investigation and believe today’s decision affirms that Cpl. Carter was acting in accordance with his role as a licensed Texas Peace Officer,” UIW Chancellor Dr. Denise Doyle said in a prepared statement released by the university Tuesday afternoon. “The grand jury, in arriving at their decision, clearly gave full consideration to the District Attorney’s investigation materials, most of which are confidential. Regardless, the tragic circumstances of the loss of the life of Cameron Redus have affected countless lives. A family has lost their son and a peace officer must live with the decision he was compelled to make. The University continues to extend prayers to all involved in this tragedy. We respect the judicial process and will continue to watch it unfold.”
The Rivard Report will publish additional details as they become available.
*Featured/top image: Administrative building at the University of the Incarnate Word. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, March 24, 2015.
Read more about Cameron Redus’ life, death, and family’s lawsuit here.