Last Thursday, July 18, there was an emotional and irresponsible reaction by “community leaders” to a decision by a Bexar County Grand Jury not to indict a San Antonio police officer for the accidental shooting of a black teen. Sadly, it appeared some community leaders were more interested in fueling the emotions and in revenge than justice.
Any accidental shooting is tragic, and the emotions of the family members of the victim are raw and tender, and emotions always cloud reason and logic. However, "justice" is based on facts, and sometimes it is emotionally difficult to accept.
On the morning of October 17, 2018, the police call to 217 Roberts Street turned into an “officer-involved shooting” resulted in the death of Charles “Chop” Roundtree Jr. According to SAPD reports, the city was trying to shut down the residence for good because of numerous calls to the house.
During two years since October 2018, the date of the officer-involved shooting, SAPD calls for service to 217 Roberts Street revealed 130 visits by police; 64 visits for drugs and six for gun-related incidents. There were also police made 111 calls to the entire rest of the block during that same period. This neighborhood was NOT a “peaceful” neighborhood.
As in all accidental shootings, the officers were in a potentially dangerous area facing emotional people.
SAPD Officer Steve Casanova was wearing a body camera when he was responding to an assault call and made contact with 18-year-old Charles Roundtree Jr. and another man. Police said Casanova opened fire after another man in the house reached for a gun. Roundtree Jr. was fatally struck by accident by the officer.
The body camera revealed the tragic event, and last Thursday, a jury decided not to indict Casanova for the shooting. However, the decision a group of protesters said the officer “got away with murder.”
Family members of the victim and others protested at the footsteps of the SA Public Safety Headquarters Friday, July 19, to demand justice. One of Roundtree’s relatives told the media, “He don’t deserve a badge if he’s out here killing kids.”
The emotional comments are understandable but to a certain degree. Former San Antonio Mayor, and current Democrat presidential candidate Julian Castro has criticized police officers across the nation for “killing innocent young black men.” Castro and others have shamelessly fueled the distrust among the black community against law enforcement for political purposes.
We must recognize that police officers must deal with a culture of violence has developed in some neighborhoods. Black-on-black crime and violence are out of control in many cities and communities across the country, including in San Antonio’s Eastside, and this incident occurred at a location that was known as a “drug house.”
Police officers have to make split-second life-and-death decisions, and they cannot be entirely blamed for accidental shootings. However, community leaders who use an accidental shooting tragedy for their political advantage or fueling distrust and hatred should be ashamed.