SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday handed down a ruling that rejected the University of the Incarnate Word’s case for immunity in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of Cameron Redus.
The case was argued on Dec. 4, 2019.
This ruling sends the case back to the state district court, allowing the lawsuit from Redus’ family to move forward.
The Texas Supreme Court stated the private university “does not act as an arm of the State in its overall operations."
“And though the University’s law enforcement activities benefit the public, its arguments for extending sovereign immunity do not comport with the doctrine’s historic justifications: preserving the separation of government power and protecting the public treasury from lawsuits and judgments,” the ruling states.
“We’re excited that the court is going to let us take this back to the trial court so that we can show what happened to Cameron Redus, and that we can get justice for the Redus family,” said Brent Perry, the family’s attorney.
Perry suggested that the case probably will not go to court until next year.
Redus, 23, was shot and killed by a UIW campus police officer during a traffic stop back in December 2013.
The university claimed that its police force should be considered a government unit and that the court should, therefore, dismiss all claims. The Redus family is arguing, however, that the UIW police department is part of the university and not the government.
“Getting to the truth is our major consideration,” Perry said. “We’ve been kept from doing that for close to six years now, and it’s about time to get there.”
The family filed a civil suit against both former campus police officer Christopher Carter and the university in 2014 after a Bexar County grand jury chose not to pursue criminal charges.
Although he was on duty, Carter was several blocks away from the campus when he attempted to pull over Redus on suspicion of drunken driving.
An autopsy found Redus, who was heavily intoxicated, was shot five times at close range.
Carter later resigned from UIW’s police department but was cleared of criminal wrongdoing in 2015 by a Bexar County grand jury.
UIW released the following statement:
“The tragic circumstances regarding the loss of Cameron Redus continues to affect countless lives and we at the University of the Incarnate Word keep the Redus family in our prayers. We must never lose sight of the grieving family of Cameron Redus nor the tragedy that precipitated this lawsuit. The University respects and accepts the detailed and thorough opinion of the majority of the Supreme Court of Texas and thanks the Court for its consideration. The University looks forward to the resolution of this matter for the Redus family and our UIW community.”