Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Article Image Alt Text

Above, on Jan. 2, Ben Crump, attorney for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahumaud Arbery, joins calls for release of body cam footage after a Hays County inmate was shot at Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle. Daily Record photo by Zoe Gottlieb

Body cam footage in fatal shooting of Joshua Wright won't be released until investigation complete

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Amid calls for body camera  footage to be released following the fatal shooting of inmate Joshua Wright, Hays County said video footage would not be released until the Texas Rangers’ investigation is complete.

Hays County released a statement Friday stating that the Texas Rangers requested that body cam footage of the officer involved in the shooting along with any additional information related to the investigation not be released until the investigation is over.

“The immediate release of the body cam video and other information may adversely affect the Rangers’ ability to conduct and investigation by, among other things, impacting the recollections and statements of witnesses,” Hays County’s statement said.

Wright, 36, was shot by a Hays County corrections officer, later identified by Wright’s family lawyer Chevo Pastrano as Isaiah Garcia, as he received medical treatment at Ascension Seton Hays in Kyle on Dec. 12. The Hays County Sheriff’s Office alleges Wright assaulted the officer and began to flee. The officer chased Wright through the emergency room. HCSO stated that the officer discharged his firearm, striking Wright.

Wright was a pretrial detainee in the Hays County Jail for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, bail jumping, failure to appear, reckless driving, criminal mischief and evading arrest and detention.

Following the incident, Charley Wilkison, executive director of the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT), wrote on social media that Wright allegedly grabbed sharp medical instruments and began running toward hospital staff and civilians. But Wilkison later edited the statement to say he moved toward sharp medical instruments rather than grabbed the medical instruments.

In response to Wilkison’s social media post, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra issued a statement, requesting HCSO release “all relevant body-camera shooting within 10 days of the in-custody death.”

“Cooperation by the Sheriff’s Office, of making available video documentation of the incident by Friday, Dec. 22, would importantly enhance public trust and understanding of the context surrounding this tragic loss of life,” he wrote.

After the body cam footage wasn't released by Dec. 22, Wright’s family, Pastrano, and Ben Crump — attorney for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery — demanded the body cam footage's release on the front steps of the historic Cephas House on Monday, Jan. 2.

“Ms. Beverly Wright, Joshua’s mother, never would’ve thought that she would be starting off 2023 with this tragedy,” Crump said. “And so that’s why it’s so important that all of us are standing here together, the whole community, saying that we want the truth. We want the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God.”

“This case is about trust,” he added. “It’s about transparency leading to truth, accountability, and then we can have trust that no matter who we are — black, brown, white, red — we get equal justice under the law.”

Although body cam footage has yet to be released, Pastrano shared during the recent press conference that a second autopsy found six entrance wounds and four exit wounds in Wright’s body.

“We stand here because there is no excuse, there is no reasonable explanation why a man in shackles should ever be fired upon, even once,” Pastrano said. “There are all kinds of less than lethal ways to stop a man from walking away from, or shuffling away from, or even attempting to run away from in shackles, rather than shooting upon him.”

Hays County said members of the commissioners court have been monitoring the incident and “understand the importance of maintaining the integrity of the investigation, but they also recognize the grief felt by Mr. Wright’s family and the need for closure in the community.”

“With that in mind, court members will be requesting that the State dedicate as many resources to the investigation as possible, to help bring the Rangers’ investigation to an efficient conclusion, after which the Hays County Criminal District Attorney’s Office will determine the timing for public disclosure of the body cam video or any other materials associated with the investigation,” the county said.

The county added that when the footage is released it will be reviewed and potentially redacted after Ascension Seton Hays raised concerns regarding the inadvertent disclosure of privileged third-party medical information.

Garcia, who was placed on administrative leave following Wright’s death, has returned to work pending the outcome of the investigation, the county said, adding that he won’t be assigned to a position involving direct supervision of jail inmates until investigation is complete.

Hays County Jail Advocates, an organization which aims to create “community for people who have been harmed by the Hays County Jail,” questions the county for allowing Garcia to continue to work.

“It speaks to the pathetically low standards for accountability in Hays County that our local government is seemingly fine with the fact that Isaiah Garcia — the man who needlessly shot and killed Joshua Wright in a crowded hospital less than a month ago — has been allowed to return to work,” HCJA said after Hays County issued its statement on Friday, adding, “How is it the policy of Hays County to allow any employee responsible for the death of another to return to work so quickly, regardless of fault? Surely any decent person would need time to process the weight of such a tragedy.”

Additional reporting by Zoe Gottlieb

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666