East Texans React To Video Of Man Shot By Officer - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

5/7/7-Gregg County

East Texans React To Video Of Man Shot By Officer

KLTV 7 News first told you on Friday about a Gregg County deputy being cleared by a grand jury after he fired shots, killing an East Texas man during a traffic stop.  The dashcam video from that night was released last week.  It's the same video the grand jury viewed.

Since that first aired we've received several emails from you.  Here are what some of you had to say.  "In my opinion it was murder pure and simple. The feds should get involved and the deputy should be punished. I cannot believe a grand jury couldn't see what was in front of them.  It's outrageous that the deputy is walking out of this with no punishment whatsoever," said Lisa.

Rama Buckner wrote, "I do not understand how the grand jury did nothing about this.  Even I could see the boy did not understand there was absolutely no reason for the officer to shot this young man." 

KLTV 7 News has contacted Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano asking him to comment on this, but he's been advised not to because of a pending civil lawsuit.  Gregg County's counsel, Robert Davis however, had this to say about the incident:  "We believe based on the video tape and the actions of the individual who was shot, that the shooting was perfectly justified. The officer didn't do anything wrong considering the actions that were taken by the deceased," said Davis.

Davis said Deputy Nixon felt his life was in danger and was correct in using deadly force, but also added no weapon was found on Abel Jaimes Benitez's body.  On Friday, Benitez' aunt told us, he did not speak English, and that's why he did not do what Deputy Nixon told him to do during the stop.  KLTV 7 News got feedback from community members today. 

"This was New Year's eve.  It was cold.  He had a sweater on.  Of course you could see it through the video.  He was putting his arms together trying to keep warm," said Jose Sanchez, a Longview-based attorney, who is also an activist in the Hispanic community.

Sanchez says he's represented many DWI cases and has had to review many tapes.  Today, we showed him the tape from December 31st, the night Benitez was pulled over on a suspected DWI.

Sanchez questions why Deputy Nixon, instead of approaching Benitez and asking for his driver's licence and insurance, yelled for Benitez to get out of his car.  "What's even worse is when the other officer gets there, he handcuffs him.  And this individual has been shot.  He's on the ground.  He's not even a threat and they handcuff him," said Sanchez.

Alice Thompson says she can understand Deputy Nixon's concern but she believes the shooting was unjustified.  "He didn't understand what the officer was saying but the officer didn't pull a weapon or anything, so in my opinion that did not justify him shooting this individual and if you had to shoot him, at least you could have shot him in the leg," said Thompson.  

Longview resident Michelle Fritz says she thinks Deputy Nixon handled the situation as best as he could have.  "I think hindsight's 20/20.  Yeah, that's easy to say now because all the stories, but at the time he thought his life was in danger so his adrenaline was flowing," said Fritz.

Sanchez says, Gregg County tax payers are going to end up footing the bill for this fatal shooting.  "The county will have to cash out money to defend this lawsuit and also if they jury finds it in favor of the plaintiff Mr. Benitez, then they will have to pay money from the county," said Sanchez.

Sanchez says he hopes officials review the proper protocol with their officer to keep something like this from happening again.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.  ortega@kltv.com


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