SAN ANTONIO – A Bexar County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a veteran suffering a mental health crisis will not face criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict him, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office confirmed on Monday.
Damian Daniels was shot and killed outside his home by Bexar County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Rodriguez on Aug. 25, 2020 during a mental health check in the 11000 block of Liberty Field. The shooting sparked criticism from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and sparked a new program designed to better respond to mental health calls.
The case was presented to a grand jury by the Bexar County District Attorney’s Civil Rights Division. After reviewing the evidence presented to the panel, the grand jury issued a “no bill of indictment,” clearing Rodriguez of criminal charges. Officials said a detailed memo “explaining the facts and laws considered in this case” will be posted on the civil rights division website on Tuesday.
“The death of Mr. Daniels was tragic. This country needs to do a better job of helping those in mental health crisis,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in a statement. “We have reviewed the video with the Daniels family and have informed them of the Grand Jury’s decision. As I have stated in the past, every officer-involved shooting in Bexar County resulting in serious injury or death will be decided by a Grand Jury.”
Daniels’ family had previously called on authorities to release body camera footage of the incident. They had also called for the resignation of Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar over “material misrepresentations” after he released still images of the struggle.
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.”
About an hour after the announcement of the grand jury decision, BCSO released the video. According to BCSO, the video shows the shooting of Daniels, deputies speaking to him and 911 calls.