5 years after SAPD vehicle hit and killed man, his family calls city’s lawsuit settlement offer ‘insulting’

City says it is open to negotiating a resolution out of court, but did not hear from family’s attorney from October 2021 to last month

SAN ANTONIO – Five years since a San Antonio man was hit and killed by a police patrol vehicle, his family is calling the city’s only offer so far to settle the wrongful death lawsuit “insulting.”

David Arredondo died May 11, 2018, while riding a bicycle around 11:35 p.m. in the 7400 block of Somerset Road, on the city’s Southwest Side.

An SAPD vehicle driven by Officer Isaac Botello was following another patrol vehicle to a noise complaint, when Arredondo rode into the intersection and collided with the front of Botello’s vehicle, court records and police dashboard camera footage show.

The officers did not have their patrol lights or sirens activated as they responded to what the court records describe as a “non-emergency call.”

Arredondo was thrown over the vehicle and struck a mailbox on the far side of the street, scene photos obtained by KSAT Investigates show.

His bicycle was thrown forward after the collision and badly bent, camera footage and scene photos show.

Arredondo, 69, who was pronounced dead at the scene, suffered catastrophic injuries including internal decapitation, a severed spinal cord, broken ribs and a broken leg and a lacerated aorta and liver, court records confirm.

Both of his kidneys were pushed into his abdominal cavity, the records show.

Thursday marks the fifth anniversary of Arredondo’s death.

“Our family is very upset at this time. We have questions that have gone unanswered after five years,” said Arredondo’s niece, Yvonne Gonzalez.

Lawsuit has languished in the courts

Arredondo’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of San Antonio in June 2019.

The city attorney’s office attempted to get the case dismissed, claiming it had not received formal notice of the suit.

The trial court and later the Fourth of Appeals denied the city’s motion.

The appeals court noted in its denial even though the crash and crime scene investigation reports did not indicate any fault by Botello, it does not negate evidence the city has that indicates Botello was not keeping a proper lookout at the time of the accident.

The city attorney’s office attempted to get a hearing on the suit before the Texas Supreme Court, but was denied, court records show.

Leslie Sachanowicz, an attorney representing Arredondo’s family, said he sent a preservation letter to determine how fast Botello was driving at the time of the crash, but has not yet been provided that information.

He said the assistant city attorney assigned to the case previously offered to settle it by having the city cover Arredondo’s funeral costs only.

“Note that I will not offer more than funeral expenses, which have already been on the table for some time now,” wrote assistant city attorney Judith Sanchez on October 1, 2021, in a scheduling email sent to Sachanowicz.

Yvonne Gonzalez and attorney Leslie Sachanowicz speak with KSAT about the family's wrongful death lawsuit against the city of San Antonio. (KSAT)

“To me, it’s not discouraging, but disgusting and shameful,” said Sachanowicz, who repeated claims from Gonzalez that the family believes the city is treating Arredondo like he was a “nobody.”

City officials declined a request from KSAT to be interviewed for this story, citing the ongoing litigation.

In a statement attributed to the city attorney’s office, a spokeswoman told KSAT via email:

“Like most large organizations, the City of San Antonio often seeks to resolve claims early in the process either through a negotiated resolution or through an early dismissal of a case. Many times both paths are followed in parallel. Of course, a negotiated resolution requires two-way communications. In October 2021, we were prepared to mediate the referenced case but did not hear anything from plaintiff’s counsel again until April 2023. We remain open to discussions as the suit proceeds.”

Sachanowicz called the city’s response “generic” and said he had discussed the case with the city for more than two years, prior to October 2021.

He added that his private attorney caseload also contributed to the “pause,” but that he has not heard anything substantive since attempting to reengage in talks with the city in early April.

WARNING: The video below contains graphic footage and language

‘I hit someone on a bike, sir.’

Graphic dashboard camera footage recorded by Botello’s vehicle shows Arredondo riding his bicycle through the intersection moments before it collides with Botello’s patrol vehicle.

The impact of Arredondo’s body and bicycle hitting the vehicle broke the SUV’s windshield and damaged its guard grill, grill and hood.

Scene photos show damage to Officer Isaac Botello's SAPD patrol vehicle after a fatal crash in May 2018. (KSAT)

Botello, who was uninjured, is shown in the footage walking past the camera with his hands up to his head.

Botello’s body-worn camera footage contains video of him pacing around the scene as well as audio of him getting increasingly distraught as the gravity of the incident hits him.

“Have them step it up, please. Fu**, fu**, fu**, fu**. Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!” said Botello after telling a dispatcher that EMS and a supervisor needed to come to the crash scene.

“Dude, he just bolted out in front of me. Oh my God, dude! Oh my God,” said Botello.

A man who was riding his bicycle with Arredondo, identified by Arredondo’s family as the victim’s brother-in-law, can be heard chastising the officers for driving fast without their emergency lights on.

“You’re about to get hooked up. I’m telling you to get out of the crime scene,” another officer is heard telling Arredondo’s brother-in-law.

“I hit someone on a bike, sir,” Botello can be heard telling a supervisor before another officer at the scene tells him to sit in his vehicle.

“You don’t talk to anybody but the sergeant, alright? You hear me? You hear me? Don’t talk to anybody but the sergeant,” an officer tells Botello as he sits in his damaged patrol vehicle.

Botello appears to begin crying before another officer tells him the incident will be treated much like an officer-involved shooting and that Botello should sit in another vehicle.

Former SAPD officer Isaac Botello reacts after hitting and killing David Arredondo with his patrol vehicle in May 2018. (KSAT)

Botello mutes his microphone a little over 20 minutes into the body-camera video footage, after an officer consoling him tells Botello he can go “blue.”

The footage remains muted for another 36 minutes before the recording ends as Botello is driven away from the scene.

Sachanowicz accuses city of conspiring to obstruct justice

Sachanowicz recently filed an amended petition in the case that accuses the city of conspiring to obstruct justice.

The filing takes issue with the contents of Botello’s body-worn camera footage, claiming that Botello was coached by other officers and conspired with them at the scene.

SAPD officials confirm Botello returned to duty after the fatal crash before resigning from the department last August.

An SAPD spokesman said he did not know the reason for Botello’s resignation.

City officials last week confirmed Botello did not submit an exit interview when he left the department.

Botello was not criminally charged for the crash.

Texas Commission on Law Enforcement records show Botello has not worked for another agency since leaving SAPD.

Botello was suspended three days by SAPD in July 2018, for negligently striking another car with his patrol vehicle in February 2018, less than three months before the crash that killed Arredondo, discipline records show.

About the Authors:

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

Joshua Saunders is an Emmy award-winning photographer/editor who has worked in the San Antonio market for the past 20 years. Joshua works in the Defenders unit, covering crime and corruption throughout the city.