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Redus family dealt setback in wrongful death lawsuit after Texas Supreme Court ruling

Justices conclude UIW had right to appeal lower court ruling

AUSTIN – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday reversed a lower court's decision that the University of Incarnate Word is not a governmental unit, allowing the private university to use an immunity claim in an ongoing wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of a student who was shot and killed by a campus police officer more than three years ago.

The 12-page written ruling sends the case back to the Fourth Court of Appeals, which will decide if UIW, and by extension its police department, is entitled to sovereign immunity.

The ruling comes more than five months after the case was heard by the state's highest court.

"The university is entitled to the defense of immunity. Certainly, it's the position we've held all along," said Matthew Wymer, an attorney representing UIW.

Brent Perry, an attorney for the family of Cameron Redus, said via telephone that they will continue to argue against the school's claim of immunity.

Perry said UIW Cpl. Chris Carter was not acting at the direction of a governmental entity, since his employer, UIW, is a private institution.

The Supreme Court justices concluded for the purposes of UIW's appeal that the school is a governmental unit because it operates a state-authorized police department with state-licensed officers.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of Redus months after the UIW senior was shot and killed by Carter, following an altercation during a traffic stop outside Redus' off-campus apartment in Alamo Heights.

Carter was on duty, but was several blocks away from campus when he attempted to pull over Redus on suspicion of drunken driving.

An autopsy found that Redus was shot five times at close range and was heavily intoxicated.

Audio from Carter's body-worn microphone revealed that Redus repeatedly ignored the officer's commands and eventually fought with him.

Carter later resigned from UIW's police department but was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in 2015 by a Bexar County grand jury.

The case will likely resume this fall in the Fourth Court of Appeals.

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