SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff is directing his county manager to look into policy changes after Bexar County deputies fatally shot a mentally troubled combat veteran on Tuesday.
The death of Damian Lamar Daniels, 31, sparked protests outside the Bexar County Jail earlier this week.
Deputies were called to his home by the Red Cross to check on Daniels, who had been struggling since the death of his relatives. Daniels was aggressive, however, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said he initiated a physical struggle that lasted longer than two minutes. Toward the end of the struggle, deputies said Daniels reached for his weapon, so one deputy shot him twice.
Salazar released body camera images of the encounter on Thursday in an effort to show the public what the deputies were facing.
In a statement released Friday, Wolff said, “It may have been better to send crises mental health professionals rather than deputies with guns and uniforms.”
“Based on the information I have regarding the unfortunate death of Damian Lamar Daniels, I believe this incident should have never happened,” Wolff said.
In response to the statement, Salazar said he has previously and continues to propose a mental health pilot program similar to CAHOOTS, a crisis assistance service that originated in Eugene, Oregon.
Read Wolff’s full statement below:
Based on the information I have regarding the unfortunate death of Damian Lamar Daniels, I believe this incident should have never happened. Daniels did not have a criminal history, but did have mental issues. In review of the responding call history, on day one his family asked for assistance and deputies found him despondent and provided the family with information on accessing a mental health warrant. On the second day, deputies responded to a call from the Red Cross concerning Daniels. A confrontation ensued that resulted in the shooting death of Daniels. The information I have is that he had a gun and the deputies were challenged.
I am asking County Manager David Smith through the Mental Health Department to review this case and to recommend changes in policy. In cases like this, with known mental health issues, it may have been better to send crises mental health professionals rather than deputies with guns and uniforms. I am also asking Smith to determine what additional mental health staff would be required to augment our Mental Health Department enabling us to better respond to cases like this.Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff