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Did Police Officer Use Gun Instead of Taser by Mistake in Bodybuilder Shooting?

As part of an open records request from the El Paso Times, the city has released the video of a 2013 shooting of a handcuffed prisoner by and El Paso Police officer. The prisoner was a well known local body-builder and many people are saying the shooting was unjustified and the officer should face criminal charges.

A source with contacts within the El Paso Police Department tells me that this was a mistake on the part of the officer. According to my source, the officer meant to use his taser on the prisoner but, in the heat of the struggle, drew his firearm instead.  The video is posted below. Here are a few key moments to watch for:

:23   -  The officer(in blue) and the guard (in brown) seem to be talking to the prisoner, whose hands are cuffed behind him.

:32 — The prisoner, Daniel Saenz, begins struggling again.

:42  -  Mr. Saenz hands are still cuffed behind him

1:03 — Mr Saenz hands appear to be in front of him, possibly uncuffed. It is unclear if he has broken free from his cuffs.

1:04  – Saenz left arm is flailing about and clearly free from his handcuffs

1:06 — Officer Flores appears to reach for his taser, which is holstered on the left side of his body.

1:07  —Officer Flores draws his service weapon from his holster which is on his right hip and fires one shot into Mr. Saenz back.

It should be added that at the moment the shot happens, a lawyer for CLEAT, which is a police association, says that the guard is thrown off by Saenz and bumps against the officer’s firearm, causing it to discharge.

1:10   –Officer Flores holsters his weapon and then draws his taser before climbing on to the now wildly thrashing Saenz.

Watch the events as they unfold and decide for yourself. Did officer Flores intentionally shoot Saenz because he thought he was in danger?

Did the guard actually cause the gun to discharge as CLEAT argues.

Or, as my source suggests, did Officer Flores become confused during the struggle and use his firearm when he actually meant to use his taser. I find this last scenario to be at least credible. You see Flores first go for his taser. Then, he changes his mind and draws his weapon and fires. Then, as soon as the shot is fired, he immediately drawn his taser. Is it because he meant to use the taser all along and his mind is just catching up to the events that are happening so quickly? If Officer Flores’ lawyers are going to argue that, as CLEAT suggests, the gun went off when the guard was thrown off by Saenz, they’ll have to answer this question: why did Flores draw his weapon in a close quarters fight unless he intended to fire it? Surely, he didn’t expect the agitated prisoner to calm down just by brandishing his gun.  If this goes before a jury, I believe the theory that he drew his firearm by mistake would have a better chance of exonerating Officer Flores.

 

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