On June 23, at half past midnight, San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) officers were dispatched to an apartment complex for a disturbance. When officers arrived, they found 46-year-old Melissa Perez had allegedly cut the fire/security alarm system (a felony offense) to the apartment complex in which she lived. As officers approached Miss Perez to investigate, she fled into her apartment and ignored the officers’ commands to stop. Officers pursued and she locked herself inside. Officers positioned themselves at the front and back doors to the apartment and talked to Perez through an open window near the back door.
She was ordered to surrender and come outside. She refused, threw a glass candlestick at an officer, and yelled, “You don’t have a warrant.” One officer was hit by the candlestick. A supervisory officer was called. Sergeant Alfred Flores arrived on the scene and went to the back patio where Perez had assaulted the officer. One officer jumped the railing and tried to open the glass door. Miss Perez swung a hammer at the officer breaking the glass door. The officer fired a shot but appeared not to have hit Perez. Sergeant Flores jumped the railing onto the back porch and Miss Perez again began swinging the hammer. Flores and officers Eleazar Alejandro and Nathaniel Villalobos fired. Perez was struck by gunfire and went down. Officers quickly breached the door and rendered first aid. Perez died of her wounds.
Later, in a press conference, Police Chief William McManus said Miss Perez was hit “at least twice.” McManus also said, “It appeared that Miss Perez was having a mental health crisis.” That might be, however, her actions are consistent with that of a criminal who just committed a felony offense and was eluding arrest.
All three officers who shot were arrested and booked for murder.
The Texas Penal Code defines murder as “A person commits an offense if he: (1) intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual; or (2) intends to cause serious bodily injury and commits an act clearly dangerous to human life that causes the death of an individual.” At issue is the officers’ intent. Was killing Perez the officers’ intent? No, of course not. The officers’ immediate rendering of first aid to Perez confirms the officers had no ill intent. Did the officers take the best course of action given the situation? Do their actions rise to the level of a criminal offense? The follow-up investigation will shed more light on those issues.
What concerns me about this case is the haste in which the three officers were charged with murder. Why not do a more thorough investigation before charging the officers with murder and suspending them without pay? These men are not a flight risk, neither are they a danger to society. When I worked Homicide, Sex Crimes, and Internal Affairs on the SAPD, we didn’t always arrest a suspect right away. Unless there was a flight risk and/or further risk to the public, the best course of action was to take the time to investigate, rather than have a knee-jerk reaction to public pressure. Such is the case here. If arrests are warranted, they can be made later. Jesus said, “For from within, out of the heart of man, come[s]…murder” (Mark 7:21). Pray for the family of Ms. Perez, the officers, and the investigators.
Gary Austin, the REV.FM station manager and my partner on the Dog Watch radio show has put the show on several podcast venues. You can now listen to Dog Watch on Spotify, Apple, Amazon, and Google podcast communities. Of course, archived shows can still be found on THEREV.FM.
Speaking of podcast, Ken Frownfelter, an officer at Grants Pass, (OR) PD and host of “What’s a Hero” podcast, invited me as a guest on his podcast. Click here for the link if you’re interested in listening.
Israel Tour 2024!
The Strong Blue Line is hosting an Israel Tour in March 2024. Former police officer, author, and national speaker, Adam Davis will join Paul Vanhoeven and me for the 12-day trip. We’ll be leaving Atlanta with a direct flight to Tel Aviv on March 13th and returning on March 24th. The cost is $4,846 per person, double occupancy. For more information go to TheStrongBLueLine.org.
On the Road
Recently I received the below email from Dr. Keith Cochran, a pastor and LE Chaplain in Tupelo, MS who attended the seminar in Meridian, MS this spring. Here’s what he wrote:
“I wanted to pass along to you how much I appreciated your training in Meridian in May. I came home encouraged and challenged. I am the chaplain for the Lee County Sheriff’s office. That Wednesday we had a significant shootout with over 180 shots fired between officers and the criminal. I have been able to talk with and minister to several of the officers involved. You gave me the tools to help minister to these men. Thank you.”
This month I’ll be in the Idaho panhandle facilitating a Chaplain Retreat at Protector’s Peak, then it’s off to Texas. I’ll be speaking at anniversary celebration of the church my father founded in 1977, New Life Baptist Church in Converse. Then I’ll be in San Antonio co-facilitating a training seminar with Jon Sperling of Make It Clear Ministries.
Pray for your police.