San Antonio taxpayers could wind up on the hook after a San Antonio Police officer shot and killed an unarmed teenager inside a west sie 'drug house' earlier this month, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The mother of the teen who was shot, Charles Roundtree, Jr, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of San Antonio and the officer who fired the shot.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, contradicts the claims that police made about what happened inside the home.
Police said officer Steven Casanova arrived at the home on Roberts Street to answer a complaint that a person 'selling something' at the house had been assaulted. When he went inside, police said one of three men stood up, started moving threateningly toward police, and reached for something in his waistband that Casanova thought might be a gun, so he opened fire in self defense. Police have conceded that Roundtree was not armed and was shot by the bullet that was aimed at another man inside the home.
But the lawsuit, obtained by 1200 WOAI news, tells a different story.
The lawsuit claims the three men were watching TV and were on a computer when Casanova suddenly appeared at the door and entered, using a 'no knock warrant.'
"Startled and frightened by Defendant Casanova's unauthorized attempt to enter the Residence, Roundtree, Singleton and Snowden (the other two men in the house) tried to identify who was at the door but were unable to do so because Defendant Casanova blinded them with a bright light he shined directly at them. Not knowing who it was at the door, Roundtree, Singleton and Snowden was moving towards the back of the house when Defendant Casanova started to fired upon them," the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit calls the shooting of Roundtree an 'extra judicial killing."
Although they are not named as defendants, the lawsuit also makes allegations against City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Police Chief William McManus.
"Defendant, the CITY OF SAN ANTONIO and SAPD have a longstanding record of not providing SAPD officers with adequate training, adequate supervision or discipline, not preventing excessive force and extrajudicial killings by San Antonio Police officers. The City Manager of San Antonio had in fact delegated policy-making authority to Chief McManus, giving him the responsibility for setting training policies and knew that there were training issues which resulted in the killing of Roundtree and the injuries to Singleton and Snowden. As a result of the lack of training, supervision, discipline and the official customs or policies of the SPD, San Antonio remains at the top of the list in the state of Texas for police misconduct."
The lawsuit claims that SAPD has a history of covering up 'bad acts' by officers.
"Defendant Casanova is a part of a police code of silence wherein other officers and supervisors habitually cover[ed] up the use of excessive force by fabricating accounts to the media and in official reports and internal affairs investigations," it says.
The lawsuit cites two other cases of citizens who were shot by SAPD officers.
"As a result of the lack of training, supervision, discipline and the official customs or policies of the SAPD, San Antonio remains at the top of the list in the state of Texas for police misconduct."
Officer Casanova is on administrative leave pending an investigation into the shooting.