Officials Fight To Suppress Video Of Brownsville Police Officer Fatally Shooting Man

The Brownsville, Texas Police Department and Texas Department of Public Safety have decided to ask a Texas Attorney General’s Office opinion regarding the release of police body camera video that shows police officers killing a man after they allegedly feared for their lives.

It seems strange that they would not want the video to be released if it supports their disputed version of the incident.

German Ornelas, 31, was fatally shot Oct. 5 as police tried to serve a warrant on him, reported The Browsville Herald.

Police claim Ornelas was armed with a knife and refused to put it down. The Brownsville PD incident report alleges Ornelas lunged at them with the knife and the officers fired multiple gunshots at him because they feared for their lives.

The victim’s family, who was present when he was killed, dispute the police version of events, saying that Ornelas was not armed when officers killed him.

The shooting was caught on body camera video, and The Brownsville Herald on Oct. 6 filed a Texas Open Records Act request with Brownsville PD and the DPS seeking access to the video, police reports and radio communications pertaining to the shooting.

In their letters to the AG, both Brownsville PD and the DPS state that because the shooting is an ongoing investigation, the release of the video would interfere with the investigation and prosecution of the case. Their requests for an AG opinion were filed Oct. 20.

The Texas Rangers are investigating the killing which occurred at an apartment complex located at 55 West St. Charles St.

The Herald reported on the police version of the events:

Investigators with Brownsville PD’s Special Investigation Unit were attempting to serve a burglary of habitation felony warrant on Ornelas.

The incident report states the door to the apartment where Ornelas was to be at was open, and the officers found Ornelas inside. Detectives Alex Garcia, Luis Velasquez and Nancy Alanis entered the apartment and were confronted by Ornelas, who had a knife in his right hand.

The detectives drew their weapons and told Ornelas to drop the knife. They backed out of the apartment and stood by in the stairway, the report states.

Detectives Lorenzo Rosales and Officer Jaime Ortega were covering the door with their weapons drawn, the report reads. They ordered Ornelas to drop the knife.

“German, with the knife still in his hand, lunged at Detective Rosales and Officer Ortega. Officers fired upon German multiple times as they feared for their safety and their lives,” the report stated.

Ornelas was transported to Valley Baptist Medical Center-Brownsville, where he died.

Ornelas’ family disputes the claims made by police and said he was sleeping when police knocked on the door.

According to the victim’s aunt, Maria Celia Hernandez, Ornelas did not have a knife. She said police tried to persuade the family to say that he did.