Family: Man shot by DPS in Poteet was mentally ill

Felipe Martinez Jr., 36, killed after 2 domestic assaults

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POTEET, Texas – The brother of a man shot and killed by a Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper in Poteet on Friday says he was mentally ill, and his family has concerns about how the shooting happened.

"I understand at that point he's looked at as like a threat, you know? But you could have tasered him," said Felipe Martinez Jr.'s older brother, Donaciano Martinez.

Martinez said his brother was bipolar and schizophrenic. At the time of the shooting, multiple agencies were looking for Felipe Martinez Jr. following both an incident where his girlfriend says he had slapped her at her home in Jourdanton and another in which he was suspected of stabbing his stepfather and his stepfather's friend in Poteet.

"We told them when that happened over there -- that he had mental issues and that he finally burst," Donaciano Martinez said.

A Department of Public Safety spokesman made no mention of mental illness while speaking to reporters at the shooting scene Friday night.

Lt. Jason Reyes told assembled media that troopers located Felipe Martinez Jr. on Rutledge Road around 7:31 p.m.

Martinez, Reyes said, "then engaged from out of the woods, was carrying a knife, and our trooper then retreated back and fired multiple shots at the individual."

Martinez died at the scene.

Standing amid the orange paint and bloodstains on Saturday, Donaciano Martinez expressed doubts about how things had played out.

"But if he'd be coming out of the woods, he'd be over there close to the woods, wouldn't he?" Martinez said, gesturing to the line of trees, 10-15 yards away from where he says his brother lay at the scene.
Martinez believes his brother was heading to their father's grave when he was shot.

"Every time he'd, you know, get into trouble or something (would) happen wrong, he'd go and he'd visit with my dad, you know," Martinez said.

Following the stabbings, Martinez said his brother was talking to their aunt, who lives out of state, and she was calling Donaciano Martinez in turn.

"Saying that he was at the park. He was hiding. He didn't know what he (did), that he was frightened, you know? That he was scared for his life and he knew he messed up," Martinez remembered.

Martinez believes his brother's mental health issues played a role in his criminal history, which, according to online DPS records, includes convictions for assault of a family member and assault of a public servant.

"He wasn't a type of person that would come at you and try to stab you. At least, that's what I thought until what happened tonight," Martinez said Saturday. "You know? I guess he just had enough. But like I said, he's been hearing a lot of voices, and we knew one day he'd probably break."

Felipe Martinez Jr.'s girlfriend, Stephanie Escamilla, told KSAT over the phone that she had arrived at her Jourdanton home Friday to find him upset, though she did not know why. She tried to calm him down, like she says she is normally able to do when he gets in "his moods or his episodes."

This time, though, he got madder and he slapped her once, Escamilla said.

Escamilla said she ran away and went to a neighbor's house. Someone called police, and Escamilla says she told them when they showed up that Martinez was schizophrenic.

Donaciano Martinez said he received a call from his brother, who said he was in some trouble and asked Martinez to come get him. Their sister got there first, though, he said, and called him to let him know she was taking him to their mom's house and that he was upset but "OK."

"I figure they get there, whatever. I don't know what happens in the next 15 minutes, but then my mother calls me screaming, says that he had stabbed my stepdad and then he had also stabbed my stepdad's friend," Martinez recalled.

Martinez said his stepfather is still in the hospital but is stable, while his friend who was stabbed has already been released.

He hopes that there will be an investigation into his brother's shooting.

"And something needs to be done about, you know, the role it plays when someone has mental issues like that," Martinez said. "Or I guess, you know, not use so much excessive force and try something else - Taser them or something else, you know? Not deadly force."

According to a statement released by DPS on Saturday, "Texas Rangers are conducting the ongoing investigation.

"At this time no other information will be released so that the integrality (sic) of the investigation is not jeopardized."

About the Author:

Garrett Brnger is a reporter with KSAT 12.