Attorney Lee Merritt held a press conference this afternoon at which he released new details on the death of Patrick Warren Sr.
Warren, 52, was killed by a Killeen police officer on January 10 after his family called the police for mental health help. He was known as a man of God who loved his family and his community.
Merritt clarified the events that transpired, starting at the day before the shooting. On January 9, Warren’s family had called the police to request a mental health resource officer. The officer arrived and after speaking to Warren, the two agreed it would be best for him to go to the hospital. Warren was released later that night and returned home.
On the next day, January 10, Warren’s family called the police again to request a mental health officer as Warren was experiencing severe mental distress. No mental health officers were available so officer Reynaldo Contreras was sent instead.
Ring doorbell footage shows the officer’s arrival and then him exiting the house shortly after, followed by Warren with his hands in the air.
“Mr. Warren was not aggressive, Mr. Warren was not armed,” said Merritt.
The doorbell footage then cuts out, but a cellphone video shows family members standing outside on the snowy lawn with the sounds of a verbal altercation in the background. There are then sounds of a taser, discharged by Contreras. Quickly after, three gunshots can be heard amid cries of “Don’t shoot!” from the family. Warren was transported to hospital where he died of his injuries.
“[Contreras] was not prepared to deal with the mental health crisis. He didn’t have any clear skillsets that could encounter the situation,” said Merritt. “He quickly escalated, almost the entire time, from the moment he entered the house until the moment of the fatal shooting.”
Contreras, who’s a five-year veteran of the Killeen Police Department, has been placed on administrative leave. He has declined to comment on the event so far.
Merritt believes that administrative leave is not enough, saying “the fact that [Contreras] has gone this long, since Sunday, without being arrested, interrogated, aligned, is really offensive to [Warren’s] family.”
The Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting.
“Their responsibility was to send the appropriate personal to deal with this particular crisis,” said Merritt of the Killeen Police Department. “They failed this family in every way and it’s left them shattered.”