The family of Damian Daniels, a Black veteran who was fatally shot by a Bexar County sheriff’s deputy during a mental health check, wants Sheriff Javier Salazar’s resignation after viewing body cam footage of Daniels’ death.
Daniels, who was fatally shot by deputy John Rodriguez on Aug. 25, 2020, was a combat veteran who was suffering mental distress when his brother called deputies to check on him.
The family was previously unable to view the video for nearly a year due to ongoing investigations into Daniels’ death. After viewing the video, the family believes Salazar’s initial narrative description of the incident was inaccurate.
“He made some material misrepresentations to the public that we believe violated his duty of office,” said Lee Merritt, the civil rights attorney representing the family.
Salazar did not publicly release footage of the incident, but in the days after Daniels’ death, he released a few still images taken from body camera footage. Salazar said Daniels was erratic and began to reach for a gun in his waistband, leading to a physical struggle that Salazar said lasted for longer than two minutes before Rodriguez opened fire.
Though Salazar said he was “not happy” with the outcome of Daniels’ death, he said he was “in awe” of the level of restraint his deputies showed before the fatal shooting.
But Brendan Daniels said deputies initiated the physical confrontation first by trying to reach over and grab his brother’s gun.
“All of that was untrue,” Brendan Daniels said. “My brother never became aggressive. He never reached for his weapon. When (Deputy Enrique Cepeda) reached for his weapon, my brother put his hand over the gun so that it would not come out of the holster so that it would not endanger himself.”
“He purposely and manipulatively released still images of Damian Daniels ... and then added a narrative that Damain reached for his weapon which you never see in the video until he is assaulted by these officers,” Merritt added.
Merritt said he expects the video will be publicly released by the end of the week. However, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said their review of the case is not yet complete and that video will not be released until the case is presented to a grand jury.
Beyond calling for Salazar’s resignation, the family is also calling for the arrest of Rodriguez, who they said was overtly aggressive in his response.
Salazar could not be immediately reached for comment about the case.