SAN ANTONIO – The attorney representing a man cleared in a shootout with an off-duty San Antonio police officer is offering a clearer picture as to what may have led a grand jury on Thursday to not charge his client, Demontae Walker.
Houston-based attorney Charles Adams said Walker's account of how things transpired in the parking lot of an All-Stars Gentlemen's Club on May 29 has stayed the same through the many times he's been asked to recount what happened.
According to Walker's attorney, Walker said it was Officer Dezi Rios who was the aggressor in the situation.
"(Walker's) story was that a vehicle driving at a very high rate of speed, he estimated over 100 mph, cut him off while he was exiting the freeway to drop his wife's cousin off for work," Adams said. "He was forced to swerve back into the I-10 lane, not the exit lane, then come to an almost complete stop and then exit.
"He said that when he got to the light, that the person that cut him off -- he used the word 'mean mugging,' but (was) staring at him in the rearview mirror and looking very angry.
"Demontae said he then signaled for his turn and pulled into the parking lot and the vehicle pulled into his parking lot, as well. He said that he parked to drop (his relative) off, and then the off-duty officer exited the vehicle then approached him very aggressively, shouting at him."
Adams said that the strip club was Walker's final destination, as that's where Walker's relative worked. He said Rios offered different accounts as to why he also pulled into the parking lot of the strip club.
According to police suspension paperwork, Rios told authorities that when he pulled into the parking lot of the strip club, Walker shouted at him, "Hey mother f-----r, you know you almost killed me back there," to which Rios responded, "Obviously I f-----g didn't because you're still here. You're a f-----g dumba-- for pulling over. Get the f--- out of here."
That's something Walker disputes. Instead, he told Adams that Rios "jumped out of his car and came charging at him," and that as he tried to pacify the situation, Rios said, "What's up? What're you gonna do? What are you gonna do?"
Adams said Rios never identified himself to Walker as a police officer and that he opened fire on Rios because Rios drew his weapon first.
Walker's version of events significantly differs from what the department has said. According to police, Walker shot Rios six times in the torso before Rios went to his vehicle to retrieve his weapon and return fire.
"(Rios') position was that he had to return to his vehicle to get his firearm (and) that he approached Demontae unarmed," Adams said. "Demontae has always said that when he saw the officer pull his gun, he then pulled a gun and shot him, but aimed for his legs, to have (Rios) stop being aggressive toward him, and then he got in his car and immediately called 911."
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Adams said Rios told investigators he got up after being shot, went to his car, retrieved his weapon and opened fire on Walker while he was in his vehicle because he was afraid Walker was reloading in his vehicle.
"All the pictures that I have from the scene, I couldn't find any blood trail returning from Demontae's car to the officer's car," Adams said. "I didn't see any physical evidence that supported that he returned to his car to get his gun."
Adams said that Walker "immediately" went to his car to call 911 after shooting Rios in the leg and that after initiating the call, Walker was shot by Rios. He said the audio of the 911 call further proves Walker's timeline of events.
"Obviously if you have five mixed drinks, you should not be driving, nor can you legally carry a gun."
In the audio of the 911 call, Adams said Walker's passenger can be heard screaming as Walker is shot, then later screaming that she, too, has been shot.
"If you are the aggressor, it doesn't make sense to me that you would immediately get in your car and call the police for help," Adams said.
According to Adams, Rios also told investigators he was leaving a police banquet, where he had five mixed drinks and was driving home when the alleged road rage incident happened.
"Obviously, if you have five mixed drinks, you should not be driving, nor can you legally carry a gun," Adams said. "A policeman can carry a gun all the time, unless you're intoxicated."
This aligns with suspension paperwork for Rios, which states he had consumed alcohol to a point where he was "rendered unfit to report for duty."
Adams explained that Walker was armed the night of the shooting because, after dropping off his relative at her job, he would typically deposit money from his business as a barber at a nearby Bank of America. According to Adams, Walker had a large sum of cash on him the night of the shooting.
While it is legal in Texas to carry a firearm in one's vehicle, Walker had also recently participated in a class to obtain his license to carry a firearm but had not completed the process, Adams said, adding, "he was qualified to get (a firearm) and had never been in any type of trouble before."
After the shooting, Walker was booked on two charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting Rios and for the injury his relative suffered in the gun battle. However, Adams said it isn't disputed that Rios was the one who accidentally shot Walker's relative, elaborating that Walker should have never been charged in connection with his relative's shooting.
As Walker's future hung in the balance, Walker's wife contacted Adams, and Adams spoke with Walker shortly after.
"I rarely take police victim cases, but when I spoke with Demontae, it just didn't -- A, he seemed very honest, and I believed him, which is rare. And then B, the San Antonio PD narrative on the events just didn't make sense to me initially, and they made far less sense after I got all of the discovery I requested and went through all of the evidence on hand."
"I was really moved by this young man's story and I believe him."
Adams essentially shut down his Houston-area offices to take on Walker's case, adding that while it wasn't a pro-bono case, he didn't turn a profit on Walker's case, either.
“I was really moved by this young man’s story and I believe him,” Adams said. “I wasn’t there, I don’t know for sure, but I truly believe him, and it does appear that a grand jury believed him as well.”
According to Adams, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office played a large role in why Walker’s charges were dismissed. In fact, he said he initially did not think there was “any hope” and that he believed Walker’s case would inevitably go to trial.
"It's a brave position for a district attorney's office to take," he said. "They have to deal with the police department on a daily basis and for them to reject the police department's position on a shooting that involved an officer is not something you see very often. It was very courageous on their part."
Adams said officials with the district attorney's office scrutinized the evidence and let the case go forward to a grand jury to decide whether to file charges.
Officials with the district attorney's office didn't say whether Rios has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the shootout. Adams said while he isn't familiar with the specifics, "(Prosecutors) have some concerns" with the discrepancies in Rios' version of events.
Adams called the shooting a "tragedy all around," saying he felt bad that Rios was also shot, lost his position as a firearms instructor at the training academy and was subsequently suspended for 15 days, but he suggested that Rios should've never been driving or in possession of a firearm that night.
"My client's life is ruined."
"Whenever an officer is shot, it's a horrible thing, it's a tragedy," Adams said. "But this is not a case of an officer getting shot. This is somebody that left dinner after having several drinks and got into an altercation with someone else."
Adams said Walker was emotional when he learned that the threat of spending the rest of his life in prison was no more. Still, Adams said his client's life was forever changed as a result of the shooting, elaborating on how Walker, who was paralyzed from the waist down, has extremely limited ability to care for himself.
"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.