The family of a man fatally shot by a Bexar County sheriff’s deputy said Monday they were disappointed to learn District Attorney Joe Gonzales dismissed a manslaughter charge against the deputy, just four days after he was indicted by a grand jury.
Deputy Brandin Moran was indicted on the manslaughter charge last week, roughly two years after he shot and killed Jesus Bonito Garcia during a family disturbance call on March 9, 2020. A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Garcia’s family states that Garcia was holding a screwdriver to his own neck and threatening to harm himself when Moran repeatedly fired his service weapon at him less than 10 seconds “after bursting into the home” with his gun drawn. Moran’s attorneys have denied any wrongdoing on their client’s behalf.
Within days of the indictment, however, the case was dismissed after Gonzales said prosecutors would have been “unable to prove (the case) beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.”
“We’ve been betrayed by the system and victimized all over again,” said Jessica Garcia, Jesus Garcia’s daughter, in a statement released Monday. “After waiting for more than two years, the District Attorney’s office finally presented our father’s case to the grand jury, only to turn around and ignore the grand jury’s decision. Whether or not Deputy Moran is guilty was a decision for a jury to make. The District Attorney’s message seems clear to us: the police in Bexar County know they can shoot someone without being held to answer in a court of law.”
Gonzales defended his decision Friday, citing two legal issues that he felt prosecutors would not be able to overcome.
“In this case, Deputy Moran discovered Jesus Garcia in possession of a potentially lethal weapon while also pinning his wife on the ground and refusing to let her go. We would have to disprove that this defense applied beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not believe we can do that,” Gonzales wrote. “We may quarrel with the law, but it is the law. Second, under Texas law, we would also have to disprove that Deputy Moran acted to defend Ms. Garcia’s life. Given that Mr. Garcia held a potentially lethal weapon and had his wife essentially held hostage, we do not believe we could make this showing beyond a reasonable doubt.”
To Jesus Garcia’s family, that explanation is not sufficient, according to Matt Garcia with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid.
“It’s both puzzling and troubling that District Attorney Gonzales had over two years to investigate and review the evidence before taking this case to the grand jury, but then decided to drop the charges only (four days) after the grand jury issued an indictment,” Matt Garcia wrote. “This decision represents an abdication of the DA’s duty to fairly and fully investigate a homicide and flies in the face of the core democratic principles of our criminal justice system.”
Though Moran is no longer facing criminal charges, Jesus Garcia’s family plans to move forward with their wrongful death lawsuit, which was filed in federal court earlier this month.
“Unlike the District Attorney, we intend to zealously pursue justice on behalf of the Garcia family,” Matt Garcia said in his statement.