AUSTIN, Texas – The nine justices of the Texas Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday in the case of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Cameron Redus, a University of the Incarnate Word student who was shot and killed by a campus police officer more than three years ago.
During the hour-long hearing, attorneys representing UIW argued that the private Catholic university should be given the same immunity protections as a state agency, since its police department functions like other state police departments.
"I think what we saw today is the Texas Supreme Court is very interested in the issue," UIW attorney Laurence Kurth said outside court.
Redus, a 23-year-old senior at UIW, was shot and killed in December 2013 by UIW police Cpl. Chris Carter, following a physical altercation outside of Redus' off-campus apartment in Alamo Heights.
Carter was on-duty, but several blocks away from campus when he pulled over Redus on suspicion of driving drunk.
An autopsy of Redus showed he was shot five times at close range and was heavily intoxicated.
Audio from Carter's body-worn microphone indicated Redus repeatedly refused to comply with Carter's commands and eventually fought the officer.
Carter, who later resigned from UIW's police department, was cleared of criminal wrongdoing last year by a Bexar County grand jury.
However, the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Redus family in May 2014 has gone from court to court as UIW attempts to get it dismissed.
Brent Perry, the attorney representing the Redus family, has called UIW's motions a "delay tactic."
Perry, however, conceded after the hearing it was time for the state's highest court to weigh-in on how far governmental immunity extends.
"Governmental immunity by a private agency induces a lot of delay to a lawsuit. Having a clear definition makes it a lot easier for everybody." Perry said.
The justices are expected to release their opinion sometime next summer, likely before the end of July.
"We're certainly ready to move forward if the Supreme Court allows us to do that," Perry said.