Did police fire shots during chase?

Probe of fatal shooting raises question

SAN BENITO — April Treviño believes she hears police firing guns as they pursued her son’s car minutes before he was shot to death at the end of a country road near the Rio Grande.

Minutes before his death, Ricardo Treviño III recorded a Facebook video his mother says indicates police discharged their weapons as they chased the unarmed 21-year-old along U.S. 281 on Dec. 7.

“You can hear shots fired — and he’s driving away,” she said.

April Treviño said her son had never been in trouble with police before.

“He had the heart of a child,” she said. “He wasn’t mentally challenged. He was in special ed and that stuff.”

A 2014 graduate of San Benito High School, he was studying to be a mechanic at Texas State Technical College, she said.

“He looked up to my dad and brother because they know mechanics,” she stated.

Now, the Texas Rangers are investigating whether officers fired at Ricardo Treviño’s car during the 12-minute pursuit that ended shortly before he was killed in a barrage of gunfire.

About eight law enforcement units pursued his red Nissan from San Benito to El Ranchito, where officers repeatedly shot him moments after he parked off Ranch Park Road at about 3:30 p.m.

The Texas Rangers continue investigating whether the fatal shooting was justified, Ricardo Navarro, an attorney representing the city, said yesterday.

“The investigation process is unfolding,” he said. “Now statements are starting to be taken.”

John Blaylock, an attorney representing Treviño’s family, said he continues to investigate the case from the police pursuit to the fatal shooting.

“From my review of the evidence we already have, there’s a strong indication this young man was killed needlessly and officers overstepped their bounds,” Blaylock said yesterday.

The investigation

So far, the Texas Rangers have interviewed Police Chief Michael Galvan, Navarro said.

“Certainly, officers in the field at the scene, not just those who discharged weapons,” he said. “I imagine anyone involved in anyway or has information is likely to be interviewed,” Navarro said.

Navarro has said it remains unclear whether Galvan fired at Treviño.

“There’s a lot of chatter as to whether the chief discharged,” he said.

Navarro said the Texas Rangers are also investigating whether police also fired at Treviño’s car during the pursuit.

“There’s an open question about that — whether there was shooting during (the pursuit),” Navarro, who was assigned to case by the Texas Municipal League, said. “That’s a significant fact. What were the circumstances? Was there justification use of deadly force? We’re hoping after the statement process is done, we’ll have more information to answer that question.”

The chase

At about 3 p.m. Dec. 7, Treviño was helping his cousins prepare food plates at Templo Bethesda Iglesia Pentecostes, at 480 E. Expressway 83 in San Benito, before they called for an ambulance because he had taken too many Tylenol pills, which he took to relieve back pain.

However, Treviño drove off because he did not want treatment, April Treviño, his mother, said yesterday.

After he left the church, Treviño saw police following him, leading him to record the chase through Facebook.

“It was a welfare call for an ambulance,” April Treviño stated in a message. “When he declined help from the ambulance, he should have not been followed. He had the right not to want help. They were only supposed to help him — not kill him.”

As police pursued her son’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.

April Treviño said her son’s video recording includes audio indicating police fired as officers pursued him along U.S. 281.

Following the chase, Ricardo Treviño led about eight law enforcement units to the side of a cul-de-sac on Ranch Park Road in El Ranchito, where his 18-minute video appears to show him parking his car.

Moments later, the video shows him being struck by several bullets as he sat in his car.

The officers

During a city meeting last week, Navarro told April Treviño and other family members that five law enforcement officers shot at Ricardo Treviño.

Amid questions, Navarro said those officers included as many as three San Benito police officers and two Cameron County Precinct 5 deputy constables.

However, he said he did not know the number of rounds that hit Treviño.

A few hours after the incident, the city of San Benito released information stating officers involved in the shooting “have been placed on administrative desk duty as per policies and procedures where fatalities are involved.”