SAN ANTONIO – The trial of a man accused of shooting and killing a Bexar County Sheriff’s Office K-9 in a 2019 standoff began Wednesday in San Antonio.
Prosecutors say Matthew Mireles led law enforcement on a chase through three counties on Jan. 25, 2019 after he fled a traffic stop in Karnes City. He ended up on Loop 1604 near U.S. Highway 151 in San Antonio after his truck ran out of gas, where they say he pointed a gun at deputies, a police helicopter and himself.
BCSO decided to send in K-9 Chucky, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, prosecutors say, which Mireles shot at before being shot himself.
“You’ll see the defendant fire -- it’s all on video -- fire shots at Chucky as he’s coming to disarm the defendant,” prosecutor Tamara Strauch told the jury in her opening statement. “And one of those shots -- you’ll see, you can see it on the video -- enters the left rib area of Chucky’s body.”
Chucky, who was not wearing a vest, died and was later given a burial with full honors.
READ MORE: Necropsy released for sheriff K-9 killed during standoff
Robert Gebbia, one of Mireles’s defense attorneys, cast doubt on whether his client or law enforcement fired the fatal shot.
“I watched that video 100 times. I’m sure they have, too,” Gebbia said in his opening statement. “You can’t tell what bullet hits that dog. There’s bullets flying from everywhere, and all of them are centered right there.”
Mireles is charged with interfering with a police service animal. However, the indictment does not specifically claim he killed Chucky, but rather that he shot at the dog, which would likely kill or injure it.
He is also charged with evading arrest and eight counts of aggravated assault of a public servant for pointing a gun at peace officers.
Though Mireles is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm during the same incident, that case is being handled separately.
‘SUICIDE BY COP’ ATTEMPT
Gebbia argued Mireles, who he says was drinking a beer during the chase and was on drugs, only intended to harm himself. He “never” fired at police, Gebbia said.
“He made the decision in his mind at the time they attempted to pull him over in Karnes County that this was his last day walking among us,” Gebbia said.
Gebbia said Mireles -- who has a slew of arrests dating back to 1998, including several convictions -- called family members and said he did not want to be confined anymore.
“His intent was to die that day. Suicide by cop and nothing more,” Gebbia said.
Both sides say Mireles streamed the chase on Facebook Live. While they also agree he fired a shot during the chase, Gebbia referred to it as “that little baloney out the window” and said Mireles didn’t even look when he fired and shouted a grito.
“He’s like celebrating the end of his life. It’s like a funeral procession for one, attended by one,” Gebbia said.
Once Mireles’s truck ran out of gas, Strauch said he got out with a cellphone and gun in his hands. Police tried to get Mireles to put down his gun and surrender over the course of a 12 minute and 20 second standoff, she said, but he would not.
“You can hear (a BCSO deputy) say, ‘It’s not too late to end this peacefully. We don’t want to hurt you. We can end this peacefully. Put the weapon down. We can talk. We don’t want to hurt you. We can work through this,’” Strauch said. “And what’s this man saying? ‘F*** you. You can kill me.’ And he refuses to put the gun down.”
Law enforcement on the scene did not kill Mireles, though his attorney says “they pumped his body full of bullets.”
“Let me start by saying you don’t get to shoot somebody for evading arrest. Period,” Gebbia said.