Friends say student killed by officer was gentle; police say he struck officer

MGN Online
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 11:17am

An honor student who had been drinking tangled with a campus police officer from his Catholic college in Texas last week. The student died; the officer is bereft, police said.

Those who knew Robert Cameron Redus called the 23-year-old student gentle and compassionate, but he apparently hit Cpl. Christopher Carter with a police baton while resisting arrest, police said Monday.

Carter wrestled it away from him, but then he fatally shot Redus, Alamo Heights police Chief Richard Pruitt said Monday.

There is no dashboard video of the shooting available, but a microphone recorded sound from the altercation Friday.

It reveals the campus officer from the University of the Incarnate Word in Alamo Heights giving multiple warnings to the student before firing six shots at him.

Five of them struck him. He was later pronounced dead on the scene, Pruitt said Monday.

Pulled over

It started with a traffic stop.

Redus had been drinking, according to a witness, and passed by Carter, who was patrolling in a campus police pickup truck, Pruitt said.

The student sped into a construction zone in "bad weather conditions," he said. Carter decided he should follow him.

Redus struck a curb on the right, Carter reported, then swerved left into the opposite lane of traffic, so the officer switched on his emergency lights and pulled him over, Pruitt said.

Redus pulled into the apartment complex, where he lived, and Carter followed, but he made a fateful glitch.

He reported the wrong street location to police dispatchers, which prompted his call to be routed to a police department farther away.

Alamo Heights police could have made it there to assist him sooner, but his call went to their San Antonio counterparts. This caused a delay of several minutes in response time.

He was left alone with Redus, and things went wrong.

Had Pruitt's officers, who were closer, been called to respond, Redus might still be alive, the chief said.

The scuffle

By the time Carter got out of his patrol truck, Redus was already out of his vehicle and walking away, Pruitt said. Carter later told police that Redus was drunk. One of the student's friends later confirmed she had been bar hopping with him.

Carter tried to hold Redus there, and ordered him to put his hands on his vehicle, and he obeyed; but when the officer pulled out his handcuffs, the student refused to cooperate, Pruitt said.

The two scuffled for more than six minutes. The dashboard camera's mount was not working. It had been glued in place two days before the incident, but the adhesive didn't hold, the school said.

The camera was pointing in the wrong direction, but its microphone recorded the altercation with Redus.

"Officer Carter instructed Robert Redus 14 times to place his hands behind his back, and informed him 3 times that he was under arrest, and to stop resisting 56 times," Pruitt said, referring to the recording.

"During the struggle, the officer attempted to subdue the suspect with his baton. ... The baton was taken by the suspect who used it to hit the officer," the university said in a statement.

Pruitt said the officer had injuries on his on his arm and head.

Carter was able to wrestle the baton away from Redus, but then he charged at the officer with his arm raised. Carter warned him four times that he would shoot, if Redus did not stop, Pruitt said.

Carter opened fire.

Witnesses

One of Redus' neighbors reportedly heard argument and the shots.

A resident of Redus' apartment complex, 22-year-old Mohammad Haidarasl, told the San Antonio Express-News that Redus was his upstairs neighbor.

Haidarasl told the paper that he was on his apartment sofa at 2 a.m. when he heard noise outside, and a voice he believes to have been the officer's saying, "Stop resisting, stop resisting."

The newspaper quoted Haidarasl as saying he thought he heard a struggle, and "Then the cop said, 'I'm going to shoot.' "

A male voice replied, "'Oh, you're gonna shoot me?' like sarcastic almost," Haidarasl said.

Less than a minute later, he said, he heard shots.

Pruitt said there were other witnesses who heard and saw parts of the struggle. One of them called police.

Honor student

Friends at the school say the Cameron Redus they knew wasn't the type to attack police.

They knew a student who made the dean's list at the Catholic college and had been co-valedictorian of a Christian high school back home in Baytown, Texas. They knew a fun-loving campus television news anchor who was "the sweetest, kindest, gentlest person," as friend Annie Jones described him to CNN affiliate WOAI-TV.

"That is nothing like him at all," Redus' friend Jonathan Guajardo said. "He is one of the nicest, most caring, compassionate guys ever. Not a mean bone in his body."

Professional officer

Carter, who has "an extensive law enforcement background," has been placed on administrative leave -- standard procedure in these types of incidents, a university statement said, adding that all campus officers "are licensed and trained as certified peace officers by the state of Texas."

Guajardo believes deadly force was unnecessary and grilled Pruitt on the topic at a news conference. He questioned whether he was a real threat to Carter, who Pruitt conceded was much taller and heavier.

"The officer is very, very remorseful over this," Pruitt said. "This is not an easy thing for him, I can assure you."

Family devastated

Redus' family released a statement to CNN affiliate KENS-TV saying, "We are understandably devastated by the death of our dear son Cameron and we ask for your prayers as we deal with our tragic loss. We trust that God is faithful and will see us through this most difficult time."

University President Lou Agnese said in a statement released to WOAI, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the student and officer involved in this incident."

This was the first shooting in university history, it said.

Hundreds of people, including relatives of Redus, gathered at the university's convocation center Saturday for a vigil. Students brought a slide show of Redus in happy poses.

--Joshua Rubin reported from Alamo Heights, Texas. Ben Brumfield and David Simpson reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's George Howell contributed to this report.

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