SAN BENITO — A 21-year-old man posed no threat to police before officers shot him in an onslaught of gunfire, his family’s attorney said yesterday.
Ricardo Treviño III’s family members were outside City Hall last night to attend a scheduled City Commission meeting, where they were planning to speak during the public comment period.
However, the meeting was canceled late yesterday afternoon because of a lack of a quorum.
Although Treviño’s car was parked in a ditch, San Benito police officers claim they believed he was using the vehicle as a weapon when they repeatedly shot him after a chase ended in El Ranchito Dec. 7, attorney John Blaylock said.
“I’ve never seen a more preventable killing,” Blaylock, a former prosecutor and defense attorney, said. “The police used excessive force. There’s no doubt in this case. He was unarmed.”
The Texas Rangers’ preliminary investigation found Treviño drove his car head-on into a police car.
As police began following Treviño’s car, he apparently used his cell phone to record the 12-mile chase from Templo Bethesda Iglesia Pentecostes at 480 E. Expressway 83 to Ranch Park Road in El Ranchito.
“He wasn’t running from anything — he didn’t commit a felony,” Blaylock said. “Everything they did was unnecessary.”
As police chased Treviño’s car, 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.
Last night, Treviño’s family members asked the Valley Morning Star to contact Blaylock as they gathered outside City Hall, where their spokesman was expected to speak to city commissioners during the meeting’s public comment period.
However, the commission’s regular 5:50 p.m. meeting was canceled due to lack of a quorum.
City Manager Manuel De La Rosa said Mayor Ben Gomez and Commissioner Rene Villafranco were ill.
Then late yesterday afternoon Commissioner Carol Lynn Sanchez said she could not attend the meeting because of a family commitment, De La Rosa said.
City spokeswoman Martha McClain said she did not know residents planned to protest the police shooting.
But some family members said they believed the commissioners did not show up for the meeting because they did not want to face the family.
“They tried to get away with murder,” Margarito Garza, Treviño’s grandfather, said.
Nearby, Flores held April Treviño, Ricardo Treviño’s mother.
Ricardo Treviño, who was mentally challenged, had no criminal record, family members said.
“I try to be strong,” Garza said as he fought back tears. “That’s all I can do.”
Flores and April Treviño said Blaylock asked them not to comment.
However, a cell phone showed a photo of the scene — Ricardo Treviño’s red Nissan appears stuck head-on in a ditch while a police car is parked in front of it.
Meanwhile, the 18-minute video shows Treviño parking the car moments before police repeatedly shoot him.
“We know from the video — the car was not a threat,” Blaylock said. “He’s in a ditch. We know the car is not moving because it’s in park.”
The Texas Rangers are investigating the case to determine whether standard police policy and procedures were followed.
“My investigation just started,” Blaylock, a former prosecutor with the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, said. “The Rangers are doing the same thing. We might find the same thing — but we often don’t.”