Grand jury indicts Hays County officer who allegedly shot shackled inmate in the back after scuffle

Isaiah Garcia no longer employed with law enforcement agency

KYLE, Texas – A Hays County grand jury has indicted a Hays County Sheriff’s Office corrections officer after he allegedly shot a shackled inmate in the back multiple times after a scuffle at Seton Hospital in Kyle on Dec. 12.

Isaiah Garcia, 27, was indicted on felony deadly conduct charges in the shooting death of Joshua Leon Wright, 36. Wright was receiving medical treatment at the hospital when he attempted to escape, according to the sheriff’s office. That’s when Garcia, who was guarding Wright, shot and killed him.

Texas Rangers investigating the shooting presented their findings to the grand jury, including video of Garcia’s body-worn camera.

“After hearing the evidence, the grand jury determined that the offense of Deadly Conduct was the most appropriate charge,” said Hays County Criminal District Attorney Kelly Higgins.

KVUE reported that Garcia was back at work following the shooting after being put on administrative leave for 10 days.

However, according to a press release from HCSO that was sent to KSAT Friday morning, Garcia is no longer employed with the sheriff’s office following the indictment.

Joshua Leon Wright was shot and killed after he attempted to escape custody from a Hays County correctional officer while receiving treatment at a hospital, according to the sheriff’s office. Photo Courtesy: Hays County Sheriff's Office (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

“While the Hays County Sheriff’s Office strongly supports our deputies and corrections officers and the duties, many of which put their safety at risk, that they must carry out on a daily basis, we also respect and honor the criminal justice process, including yesterday’s decision by the Grand Jury to move forward with charges in this case,” according to a press release from HCSO.

According to the Austin Chronicle, the Wright family’s primary attorney, Chevo Pastrano, said Garcia got into a scuffle with Wright after removing his handcuffs so he could use the restroom.

Pastrano said Wright was shot at least six times by the officer, based on information from an independent autopsy.

Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) Executive Director Charley Wilkison claims that Wright was wielding a weapon when the scuffle occurred.

Wilkison said in a statement on the day of the shooting that Wright “attacked deputy, moved toward sharp medical instruments, began running towards hospital staff/civilians. Deputy discharged his firearm. The subject was struck. Deputy OK!”

The Wright family also hired national civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who challenged CLEAT to release video of the shooting.

The family is also calling for video of the shooting to be released but Hays County officials said the video won’t be released until the investigation is finished.

Crump, who was in San Marcos speaking on behalf of the family in early January, said during a press conference that “he’s got shackles. His pants are falling down. He’s 300 pounds, moving away and this police officer says, ‘the only thing I can do is shoot him multiple times in the back.’”

Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra previously released a statement that called for HCSO to release the video by Dec. 22.

“Given a recent allegation by the Executive Director of CLEAT that differs from accounts by some of the witnesses in the hospital, I am asking the Sheriff’s Office to release all relevant body-camera footage from the fatal shooting within 10 days of the in-custody death. Cooperation by the Sheriff’s Office, of making available video documentation of the incident by Friday, Dec 22, would importantly enhance public trust and understanding of the context surrounding this tragic loss of life,” Becerra said.

Wright was in jail on charges, including unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, failure to appear, reckless driving, criminal mischief and evading arrest, deputies said.

Hays County officials said medical staff tried to save Wright after the shooting but he died.

“The Hays County Sheriff’s Office again offers its deepest sympathies to the Wright family. It is our sincere hope that all of the citizens of Hays County can come together to foster peace in our community and our country,” the press release states.

According to the Hays County District Attorney’s Office, Garcia surrendered to authorities after the indictment and was released on a $20,000 bond.

The third-degree felony charge carries a possible punishment of 2-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Crump and Pastrano released the following statement Friday on behalf of the family:

“The family of Joshua Wright is relieved by news of this indictment, as it gets us one step closer to ensuring that former officer Garcia will be held accountable for his deadly actions. It is crucial that when officers act violently and against protocol, that they and the departments that train them are held responsible for their actions to ensure that these killings stop happening. We will continue to support the Wright family through the legal process and lift them up in prayer as we fight for justice for Joshua.”

More headlines:

Family, attorneys of man fatally shot by Hays County deputy call for release of video

Hays County correctional officer shoots, kills inmate trying to escape custody at Kyle hospital, officials say

About the Authors

Emmy-award winning reporter Dillon Collier joined KSAT Investigates in September 2016. Dillon's investigative stories air weeknights on the Nightbeat and on the Six O'Clock News. Dillon is a two-time Houston Press Club Journalist of the Year and a Texas Associated Press Broadcasters Reporter of the Year.

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