Changes proposed for West Side intersection months after man was hit, killed by SAPD patrol car

On March 5, 2022, Feliciano Jimenez was hit and killed by an SAPD officer driving down W. Commerce. St.

SAN ANTONIO – After months of asking, safety changes are officially in the works for a busy San Antonio intersection.

It’s a story KSAT 12 has followed for several months, ever since a pedestrian was hit and killed at 39th and W. Commerce by a San Antonio Police Department patrol car.

The intersection has been a concern for some community members for years.

SAPD records show 58 crashes have been reported within 50 feet of that intersection between 2016 and March 3, 2022.

SAPD records show 58 crashes have been reported within 50 feet of that intersection between 2016 and March 3, 2022 (SAPD)

Belinda Herrera’s uncle Feliciano “Leo” Jimenez was killed there.

“He’s not around anymore to share memories with. It’s hard,” Herrera said.

Flowers are still placed on 39th Street beside a stop sign marking the spot where Jimenez died.

“He shouldn’t have died just to cross the street,” Herrera said.

Four months after he was killed by an SAPD officer responding to a call, Jimenez’s niece is still in mourning.

“I don’t want another family to go through this, you know, having somebody run over,” Herrera said.

She and her family members have called 311 for months, even prior to Jimenez’s death, asking for a traffic signal and saying the intersection isn’t safe.

“Why should we be calling and calling traffic people and stuff like that to do their studies, to do their job? We’re taxpayers,” she said.

The San Antonio Public Works Department wrapped up a year-long traffic study of the intersection back in May. They looked at 12 months’ worth of data in order to determine what was warranted here.

“What we do is we try our best to make sure that infrastructure is there, it’s working, and then hopefully human behavior will be dictated by that infrastructure,” Paul Berry, spokesperson for the department, said.

The study found the amount of traffic on a given day and the number of crashes at the intersection meet the requirements for Public Works to recommend a traffic signal.

“The data came back and it showed that, yes, a traffic signal is now warranted. And that’s why we made that recommendation,” Berry said.

That recommendation was narrowly missed in a 2019 study.

“This intersection is not new to us. And like I said, we looked into it in 2019 and it came close. It just didn’t meet the criteria,” Berry explained.

The 2019 study fell just an hour short of the necessary traffic to recommend a traffic signal be put in.

“When you’re spending the kind of money that a traffic signal cost, we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing for the residents and not spending money recklessly,” Berry said. “So that’s why we use data and not necessarily emotions to make those decisions.”

The most recent traffic study completed was not prompted by the crash that killed Jimenez. It was prompted by a call to 311 months earlier.

“There were higher volumes of traffic. And then we also looked at crash data for more recent years. And that kind of helped us map two of the the criteria for putting in a traffic signal,” Berry said.

At the intersection right now, there isn’t much in terms of traffic control, aside from a stop sign on 39th St. just before W. Commerce.

With Public Works’ recommendation of a traffic signal and funding, that could change.

“Usually in a design like this, I would imagine that there is going to be some crosswalks with pedestrian signals telling pedestrians when it’s safe to cross and when it’s not safe to cross,” Berry said. “Certainly the traffic signals, which would dictate the flow of traffic, and then there could be some lighting if we work with CPS to see if they think it’s warranted or not, what kind of lighting they could either be on poles on the traffic signal or some adjustments to the poles.”

The proposed changes come with a $500,000 price tag.

“In this case, Vision Zero. And the mayor’s office is going to provide $100,000. And then Public Works is requesting a capital project improvement budget for this for $400,000,” Berry said.

Berry explains they’ll have to present this proposal to City Council in September when the 2023 fiscal year budget is up for discussion. If it’s signed off on by City Council, work on the project can get started as early as October 1st.

Herrera and her family said they won’t be celebrating justice for Leo until they see the changes for themselves.

“They’re still asking. They still haven’t said yes. Like I, you know, like I say, until I see the lights, flashing lights, I’ll be happy. I’ll be happy for my uncle,” Herrera said.

A definitive design for the traffic signal changes has not been decided on yet.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.