SAN ANTONIO – Nearly four years after San Antonio police Officer Michael Garza shot and killed Alfred Aragon, Aragon's family has filed a civil suit against Garza. The first hearing was Wednesday. Aragon's family is opening up about why they filed the lawsuit in the first place and what they hope to get out of it.
"You would think with time things get easier, and it doesn't. It actually gets a little bit harder," Aragon's niece Ashley Garcia said.
In 2012, Garza was seeing Aragon's ex, Abigail Hernandez. Documents show Garza was on duty when he picked her up from a bar and drove her home. He tells her in text messages that he'd been drinking. While Garza was dropping her off, Aragon showed up and opened fire, hitting Hernandez. Investigators said Garza then followed Aragon to his house and fatally shot him at his doorstep with his children inside.
"It's not anymore tears of sadness. It's anger," Garcia said, wiping tears away.
The shooting was ruled justified, but Garza's actions leading up to it got him fired. Years later, an arbitrator gave him back his job. Garza is now working a desk job for SAPD.
"My uncle is dead. His side is never going to be told and that's exactly the reason why we want our day in court, because I want to know, my family wants to know, his daughters want to know. And I think there's somebody out there, Garza in particular who knows exactly what happened, and I think he needs to take responsibility for that," Garcia said.
Aragon's family filed the civil lawsuit against Garza and the city of San Antonio, but a federal judge dropped the city as a defendant citing lack of evidence.
The family's lawyer, Joseph Hoelscher calls it infuriating.
"There are a lot of public servants and elected officials who I think bear more responsibility even though it's very difficult legally to sue a government agency, for the fact that they employ an individual who shot a man in his front yard in front of his kids, while he was intoxicated," Hoelscher said.
Wednesday's federal hearing gave Hoelscher and Garza's lawyer six months for discovery. After that, they'll decide whether to go to trial.
"I would really like for him to just admit that he was wrong. That he was drunk that night and the decisions he made changed a lot of people's lives," Garcia said.
There will be the potential for money damages, but Garcia emphasizes the main thing that the family would like is a chance to look Garza in the face and ask, "Why?"
Wednesday after the federal hearing, KSAT requested a comment from Garza's attorney; however, because Garza is now a police officer again, his lawyer has ties to the city and said he could not comment on the case.