Uncle: Was it suicide by cop?

SAN BENITO — Minutes before a 21-year-old man died in barrage of gunfire, he appeared sad and pensive.

Ricardo Treviño III’s uncle says his nephew “had a lot of issues in life.”

His father, who he was very close to, died of a heart attack a few years ago. And a few months ago, a traffic accident left Treviño suffering in pain.

Now, Treviño’s family wonders if he might have led police on a chase so officers could kill him.

Treviño recorded the nearly 12-minute chase before San Benito police officers shot him multiple times at about 3:30 p.m. Dec. 7 off a cul-de-sac at the end of Ranch Park Road in El Ranchito.

“You could say it was a suicide attempt,” Margarito Garza, Treviño’s uncle, said Wednesday night.

However, Treviño, who was mentally challenged, posed no threat to police, Garza said.

“No where did he put a life in danger,” he said. “He was a kid at heart. He’s got a clean record. He’s never been in trouble with the law.”

The family, which has contacted an attorney, says it plans to file a lawsuit against the city.

Treviño was unarmed, apparently carrying a Taser, or stun gun, in his SUV at the time of the shooting, Garza said.

The Texas Rangers’ preliminary investigation found Treviño drove his SUV head-on into a police car.

But Garza disputes the claim, arguing Treviño apparently parked his SUV moments before the shooting.

Garza also argues Treviño’s recording does not indicate his SUV sustained any impact.

Despite questions of whether Treviño baited police to kill him, Garza argued his nephew posed no threat to officers.

“It wasn’t even murder — he was assassinated,” Garza said. “All we want is justice because money can’t bring him back. There’s a wound that’s never going to heal.”

Garza said he did not know what led Treviño on the chase.

“We know he was in the wrong with the high-speed chase,” Garza, a truck driver, said.

Garza added, “My nephew had a lot of issues in life.”

In 2011, Treviño’s father, Ricardo Treviño Jr., died of a heart attack.

“He was very close to his father,” Garza said.

A few months ago, an 18-wheeler collided with Treviño’s vehicle, injuring his back.

Because of his nephew’s young age, doctors did not prescribe pain killers, Garza said.

“It caused injury to his back where he was living in pain,” Garza said.

Garza said his nephew’s problems apparently led him to talk about killing himself.

“He did mention a lot of times he wanted to die,” Garza said. “He would talk smack but he wouldn’t do anything to harm himself.”

Meeting at church

At about noon Dec. 7, Treviño drove to Templo Bethesda Iglesia Pentecostes, a church at 480 E. Expressway 83, where he helped his cousins prepare food plates.

“I saw him sad,” Pastor Jose Perez said in Spanish. “He was very pensive.”

Treviño’s cousin called an ambulance after he apparently took too many Tylenol, the medication he took for back pain, Garza said.

But Trevino apparently refused treatment and drove away.

At about 3 p.m., Treviño was apparently driving south on Expressway 77 when he sees police cars following him.

Chase begins

At that point, Treviño apparently turns to his cell phone’s Facebook page to record what he calls a chase.

“It’s funny how you all called the cops on me. Now I have the cops over here chasing me,” Treviño says in a live-streaming video.

“This is what I think about the police — f—- you,” he says. “If they’re going to get me, they’re going to get me, they’re going to kill me. The thing is, I got a weapon in the f—- car. You all who called the cops on me are going to realize I don’t f—- with police.”

Then, Treviño begins talking about his life.

“The thing is, people are trying to break me,” he says. “You can’t break something that’s already broken.”

Treviño then refers to his father and apparently his aunt Malissa.

“Where the f—- were they when my dad died,” he asks.

As police chase Treviño’s SUV, Art Flores, his stepfather who works as a supervisor with the San Benito Police Department, was calling dispatchers to tell them police were chasing his stepson, Garza said.

Meanwhile, Garza said, Treviño’s mother April Treviño was trying to call her son through Facebook.

However, Treviño does not answer the call. Several incoming calls are heard on the video, but he never answers them.

“For all those people who called the cops on me, you’re going to see what’s going to happen,” Treviño says.

The shooting

After the 12-minute chase, the recording shows Treviño parking his SUV as sounds of sirens appear to come closer.

“You’re going to kill me. You’re going to kill me,” Treviño yells.

Moments later, police officers yell, “Hands up, hands up.”

Then, the video shows a barrage of bullets hitting Treviño as he sits in his SUV.

After the shooting, police apparently rush to the vehicle.

“Hang on buddy, hang on man,” an officer says.

Then an officer begins counting Treviño’s wounds.

“One in the arm, one in the head,” he says.

Then Treviño begins moaning.

“Is he breathing?” an officer asks.

“Yeah, he’s still breathing,” another officer says.

“Two or three in the head,” an officer says, apparently counting wounds. “One here, one here and one here.”

“Come on — keep breathing,” an officer says.

“It’s getting slower and slower,” another officer says.

Then the officers pause.

“We can’t do anything about this one,” an officer says.

In a somber tone, another officer begins speaking.

“Nothing else until the supervisor shows up and tells you what to do,” he says. “Nothing to no one, OK.”