Attorneys representing the family of Robert Cameron Redus, a University of the Incarnate Word honors student who was fatally shot by campus police officer Christopher Carter during an off-campus traffic stop in December 2013, filed an amended version of their lawsuit against UIW and Carter Monday morning that includes details obtained from an 11-minute recording of Redus' shooting.
(Click here to download the Redus family's lawsuit, which can also be viewed below.)
Those details, Redus family Attorney Brent Perry said, discredit UIW and Cpl. Carter's account of the minutes leading up to Carter shooting Redus five times in his apartment complex's parking lot off of Broadway Street. Statements from Alamo Heights Police Department investigators also contradict the recording, he said.
The recording, which has not been released to the public due to a protective order, includes audio taken from a microphone worn by Carter and video taken from the rear-facing video camera in Carter's police vehicle.
During an interview Monday morning, Perry said he obtained the recordings about three weeks ago. The Redus family has not listened to the recording, but Perry and others close to the case have. According to the audio recording, Perry said, Redus was obviously drunk, disrespectful, and physically resisted Carter's attempts to subdue him.
"But a six-foot, 250-pound police officer with a gun cannot feel like he’s in serious danger from an unarmed drunk kid,” Perry said.
Redus was 5'9" tall and weighed 130 pounds, according to the family's lawsuit.
The amended wrongful death lawsuit was filed to set the record straight, Perry said, "(UIW) has been saying a lot of things that are not true and half true ... there is a perception out there that Carter performed a normal traffic stop. He didn’t."
When Carter attempted to put handcuffs on Redus, he had not asked for identification or vehicle registration, performed any sobriety test, or told Redus he was under arrest, Perry said, Carter wasn't even sure what the address or even cross-streets were of the parking lot.
"It became clear that Carter was not acting as a normal police officer," Perry said. That's what may have sparked Redus' defiant and inappropriate response.
Carter has claimed that Redus grabbed Carter's baton and used it against him.
"If Cameron Redus ever had Officer Carter’s baton during the entire 11-minute encounter, Officer Carter stated that he knocked the baton away from Cameron at least 90 seconds before firing any of the five shots into Cameron’s body, and knocked it away before Officer Carter ever threatened to shoot Cameron," a letter sent out by a Redus family spokesperson stated.
The six gunshots fired that night take place during an eight second interval on the tape – which, Perry said, is relatively slow in the range of how fast one can fire bullets from a Glock Model 22 .40 caliber pistol, the gun Carter used to kill Redus.
The criminal case is still pending a grand jury review. Former District Attorney Susan Reed, who was voted out of office in November, never presented the case or commented publicly on its status. Her successor, District Attorney Nicolas LaHood took office in January. The case could go before a grand jury by the end of March. An indictment by a grand jury would bolster the Redus' civil case.
On March 3, UIW immediately filed an appeal to State District Court Judge Cathleen Stryker's ruling to deny a motion to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit in an attempt to classify the private institution as “governmental unit,” and therefore not liable for civil suits. Perry sees UIW's motion and appeal as stalling tactics – not unlike the unsuccessful attempt to move the civil case to federal court last year.
“They just got several ways to delay the lawsuit and this is one of them," Perry said earlier this month.
Requests for comment from UIW attorney Laurence Kurth were not responded to in time for publication.
--------Background From Previous Coverage---------
Redus, who went by Cameron, 23, was out celebrating the end of finals and the semester with friends the night of the incident. An autopsy report later showed that he was legally drunk and had traces of marijuana in his system. He was driving home to his off-campus apartment from a bar when Carter, who had left campus on a fast food run, said he noticed Redus weaving as he drove northbound on Broadway 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. UIW officials have since defended Carter and the fatal shooting of Redus as justified, although Carter later left the force without any university explanation or disclosure.
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 is frustrated with how slowly the criminal investigation has progressed, and what they see as stalling tactics in the civil lawsuit by attorneys representing the university.
This story was originally published on Monday morning, March 16, 2015.
*Featured/top image: Brent Perry, lead attorney for the Redus Family, answers questions about November's ruling to remand the Redus case to state court. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
Read more about Cameron Redus’ life, death, and family’s lawsuit here.