About 50 people gathered on Broadway Street in front of the University of the Incarnate Word to draw attention to the still-unresolved, off-campus shooting of unarmed UIW student Robert Cameron Redus in December 2013. Most participants wore green, Redus’ favorite color, and waved at the passing cars. Wednesday’s lunch rush traffic near the Hildebrand intersection was generally indifferent to the protesters’ message. But for every dozen cars that drove by, at least one honked “for justice” as instructed by various hand-made signs.
Read more of our coverage of the Cameron Redus case here.
Many returning UIW students, freshmen and passersby paused to take a photo of the protest. Local media camera crews and photographers added to the crowded sidewalk. Parent, student and citizen frustrations over UIW’s handling of the shooting – including its defense of the campus police officer Christopher Carter, who shot Redus five times — and its slow reaction time to calls for policy change – led local parent Stephanie Leihsing and friends to organize the protest.
“Anything we can do to let UIW know that we’re here is good,” Leihsing said. “You expect the right people to do the right thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen … if this is what it takes to get some accountability, then so be it. This is not the end.”
As the new school year starts, protest organizers want to make sure new students are informed about the Redus case and that returning students don’t forget. It’s also an opportunity to remember Redus as an honors student, son and explorer whose journey was cut short. The group chanted phrases like, “Justice for Cameron” and “Protect your people, not your money.”
A wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Redus family against UIW and Carter is pending, with UIW’s attorneys trying to move the case from a state court to federal court. An Oct. 30 hearing on the motion is scheduled.
An investigation by the Texas Rangers and Alamo Heights Police Department has been turned over to the Bexar County District Attorney’s office, but prosecutors there have not publicly commented on the Redus case and whether it has been presented to a grand jury.
Wendy Williams, a UIW student, said she was with Redus the night he was killed.
“(UIW officials) haven’t show the family any support. They’ve lost a son, and there’s compassion that needs to be shown. We’re a Catholic university, and there’s none to be seen,” she said. “He was so gifted and kind.”
Jonathan Guajardo, who was UIW Student Government Association (SGA) President when the shooting occurred, said he will continue to push for changes to UIW campus police policies as the Student Safety Committee chairman.
“I’m focusing a lot of my efforts on this right now, we’re hoping to see real changes by next year,” he said. “In general a change of attitude within the police department – (to be) more within the student body and a part of the community as opposed to outside of it.”
Stephen Lucke, current SGA President, said he will also continue to push for changes the SGA had previously outlined:
UIW campus police officers should be trained in the same standard operating procedures utilized by SAPD, and be informed about the proper escalation of force.
All campus police officers should be equipped at all times with non-lethal tools, including Tasers and pepper spray, in addition to their firearms.
A UIWPD representative must be present at all SGA General Assemblies to answer questions students might have, and a student representative must have a permanent seat on the hiring committee for UIWPD officers.
All UIWPD vehicles must be clearly marked as police vehicles with visible decals on all sides. They should feature working light bars situated atop vehicles, as well as PA/announcement systems, which should be utilized to communicate with students during routine traffic pullovers.
“I’m very confident that we’ll be able to come to an agreement,” Lucke said. “We need to dissolve the animosity we have between (students and police officers) – that’s not only at Incarnate Word, that’s a state issue, and it’s something the United States has to work on.”
Robert Cameron Redus, who went by his middle name, was a 23-year-old honors student out celebrating the end of finals and the semester with friends the night of the incident. An autopsy report later showed that he was drunk and had traces of marijuana in his system. He was driving home to his off-campus apartment from a bar when Carter said he noticed Redus weaving between lanes and decided to follow him, although he did not know the driver was a UIW student.
University officials have repeatedly claimed Carter had the right as a sworn police office to interrupt his late night food run to a nearby Whataburger and pursue Redus, even though he was off campus and did not know the driver was a UIW student. Carter has been on paid leave since the incident, and in its response to the civil lawsuit UIW officials defended his shooting of Redus as justified.
There are inconsistencies in Carter’s version of events from the point he began to follow Redus north on Broadway through Alamo Heights, but what is not in dispute is that Carter attempted to arrest Redus outside his apartment as he exited his vehicle and a scuffle ensued. Carter said Redus resisted arrest and fought with him before Carter finally fired six shots at close range, striking Redus five times.
Carter described Redus as charging at him with a raised fist when he fired, but the official autopsy determined that two of the shots were fired at point-blank range, one into Redus’ back and the other at a steep downward angle into Redus’ eye, the bullet exiting his lower neck, as if he were kneeling with Carter standing over him.
Neither Carter nor UIW officials have been willing to grant media interviews and address the various inconsistencies in Carter’s version of events.
The Redus family did not attend the demonstration.
Hall said the Redus family shares Leihsing’s frustrations with how slowly the investigation has progressed, and what they see as stalling tactics in the civil lawsuit by attorneys representing the university.
“It has been difficult to wait this length of time, and we still haven’t heard the audio tape, we have no report on (his) clothing – nothing beyond the medical exam and the toxicology report,” Hall said.