Texas -(Ammoland.com)- At about 9:30 p.m., at the All Stars Gentlemen's Club parking lot in San Antonio, Texas, a barber and a police officer got into a gunfight. Both were seriously wounded. A female witness was wounded with a bullet crease to her head.
The police reported the incident was caused by road rage. That seems to be correct. The barber was cut off by the police officer. They both pulled into the parking lot. They both got out of their vehicles. Then the gunfight happened.
Initially, the story from the police was the barber opened up on the police officer, who was shot six times, but managed to crawl back to his vehicle, obtain a firearm, and return fire, wounding the barber and the witness. The barber and the officer both ended up in the hospital, and both survived. From foxsanantonio.com:
UPDATE: Investigators say the off-duty officer, the suspect and the injured passenger are expected to survive, although the officer remained in critical condition. They are all being treated at University Hospital. The officer and the suspect underwent surgery early Wednesday morning.
There was more to the case. The barber, Demontae Walker, was from Chicago and had opened a barbershop in San Antonio. He had no criminal history. His father's name is Desmond. From mysanantonio.com:
Desmond Walker, a 47-year-old machine operator in west Chicago, is left trying to reconcile the police department's account of his son's actions and his own knowledge of his son.
“He just got married. Just had a baby and got a house. He opened up a barber shop in his brother's name. That's who he was,” Desmond said. “That doesn't fit the profile of a maniac or a habitual criminal.”
As the police investigated the incident, they found the police officer was drunk at the time of the gunfight. He was disciplined, removed from his police academy position, and suspended without pay for 15 days. From ksat.com:
Rios was cited for his profanity-laced exchange with Walker and because he had consumed alcohol to a point where he was “rendered unfit to report for duty,” according to the suspension order. Off-duty officers are prohibited from drinking to an extent that renders them unfit to report for duty.
The case was referred to a grand jury in Bexar County. On 14 December 2018, the grand jury refused to indict. From foxsanantonio.com:
“After considering the evidence presented against Demontae Walker, the grand jury did not return a true bill of indictment for any criminal charges,” the Bexar County District Attorney's Office said in an email Friday.
Walker's attorney says Demontae Walker never changed his account of what happened. Walker says he got out of the car to attempt to calm the off-duty officer. In Walker's account, the officer, Rios, pulled his gun first. Walker shot Rios in the legs, then immediately went to his (Walker's) car and called 911. It is undisputed that while Walker was calling 911, he and the witness were shot by Officer Rios through the car's closed window.
The physical evidence supported Walker's story. Rios said he shot through the window because he was afraid Walker was reloading. Testimony showed Rios had five mixed drinks immediately before driving to the strip club and getting into the altercation with Walker. Walker was driving to the strip club to drop off his wife's cousin, (the wounded witness) who worked there.
Demontae Walker is paralyzed from the waist down. He has a 9-month-old baby and a young wife. He can no longer support them. From ksat.com:
“My client's life is ruined,” Adams said. “He cannot perform his job anymore. He's got a 9-month-old, married, he cannot support either of them. It was a horrible event.”
Currently, Walker and his family are living with a relative outside of San Antonio, as he is no longer able to support himself.
Although Walker's life has drastically changed because of the shooting, Adams said Walker has not brought up filing a civil lawsuit.
The story reminds me of grand jury verdicts in the Old West when two men got into a shootout. Very often, juries would return a verdict of not guilty, by reason of self-defense. Very often, alcohol was involved. In this case, as often happens in gunfights, both parties were seriously wounded. People should avoid gunfights if they can. Maybe Demontae Walker could have avoided this fight. It is not clear. He had a legitimate reason to be where he was. He had his wife's cousin to worry about.
It appears alcohol clouded the officer's judgment. Officer Rios could almost certainly have avoided the gunfight. Officer Rios was almost killed but had a complete recovery. His career is in doubt.
According to ksat.com, the district attorney has not made a decision as to whether to bring Officer Rios before a grand jury.
Demontae Walker could legally have a pistol in his car in Texas. He was in the process of obtaining his concealed handgun license when the gunfight took place.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.