SAN ANTONIO – The family of a man who was fatally shot by Bexar County sheriff’s deputies while suffering from a mental health episode is calling for transparency in the investigation into his death.
Roughly a week after deputies shot Nicholas Norris, 38, on San Antonio’s Far West Side, his father, Thomas Morris, made his first public comments on Wednesday.
“Nick was a beautiful and gentle soul and abhorred violence. His brothers and I always did our best to protect him as much as possible his whole life and can’t believe we were not there to help him at that moment when he needed it,” Thomas Norris said. “He did not deserve to die, and our family is devastated by this tragic end to his life.”
On Sept. 30, deputies were called by a convenience store clerk about Nicholas Norris, who was allegedly scaring customers, Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar previously said.
Deputies attempted to pursue Norris, who sped off in an SUV, Salazar said, before calling off the pursuit. Later that day, deputies encountered Norris again as he was driving erratically on Potranco Road. A struggle ensued, Salazar said, leading a deputy to shoot Norris in the side. He died on his way to the hospital.
Salazar said the county’s mental health team, known as SMART, encountered Norris before and tried to get him help. Despite that, Nicholas Norris was out on the streets again, the sheriff said.
“Which begs the question for me is ‘Why is he even out here if law enforcement has done what we’re supposed to do?’ We’re supposed to take these people to get help,” Salazar said. “It appears that’s been done at least twice. Why is he even here?”
The family’s attorney, however, said deputies are at least partially responsible for the death of Norris, who was in emotional distress after the loss of his mother, Stephanie Norris, who died of COVID-19.
“The tragedy of this situation is that Nick Norris was in need of help, and an officer who is sworn to help citizens ended up taking his life. We see this irony play out over and over with people who have mental health challenges. Police departments clearly need to improve how they train for and engage when someone is in an emotional crisis,” Ward said. “Our legal team is investigating all legal avenues in this matter and we call on Bexar County officials for complete transparency regarding the facts of this case.”
Ward works for Romanucci & Blandin, a high-powered firm with experience in potential police misconduct cases. Previously, the firm has represented the families of George Floyd, Javier Ambler and Botham Jean, among others.
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