After a tragic incident that unfolded in the early hours of Friday, three police officers from the San Antonio Police Department have been charged with murder after allegedly shooting and killing a woman who is believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis.
Three San Antonio police officers were charged with murder on Friday after police shot and killed a 46-year-old woman, who swung a hammer in their direction and appeared to be in distress, in her home, officials said. https://t.co/g1uRbviFoh
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 25, 2023
The victim, identified as Melissa Perez, 46, lost her life at the scene after being shot by the officers identified as Officer Eleazar Alejandro, Officer Nathaniel Villalobos and Sergeant Alfred Flores, according to reports from AP News.
The series of events leading up to the shooting began when officers were dispatched to the 6200 block of Old Pearsall following a report of vandalism.
Officers had been told that Perez had tampered with a fire alarm panel by cutting some wires in an apartment complex. Upon arriving at the scene, officers engaged in initial communication with her in the parking lot, but she subsequently fled into her apartment and locked herself inside.
According to Lt. Michelle Ramos of the SAPD, officers determined that Perez’s actions constituted felony criminal mischief due to the damage caused to the fire alarm. The officers then proceeded to follow her to her first-floor residence.
One group of officers positioned themselves at the front of the apartment while another group attempted to get to her by hopping over a railing and removing a screen from an already-open window at the back area of the apartment.
As the situation escalated, an officer spotted Perez inside her apartment holding a hammer and drew his weapon, alerting the dispatcher about having the suspect at gunpoint.
During the interaction that followed, the woman threw a glass candle at the officers, causing minor injuries to one of them in the arm.
Officers tried to communicate with Perez through the open window for more than 30 minutes, attempting to de-escalate the situation. But the tension reached a breaking point when she shattered the window with the hammer. In response, one officer fired multiple rounds at her, but they appeared to miss her.
Still holding the hammer, Perez moved back momentarily before approaching the officers. It was at this moment that all three officers fired at the woman. The officers swiftly entered the apartment and administered first aid, but despite their efforts, the woman succumbed to her wounds.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus, in a press briefing shortly after the incident, acknowledged that the actions of the officers involved were not consistent with the department’s policy and training. He emphasized that the use of deadly force was not reasonable given the circumstances as currently understood.
Both the SAPD and the Internal Affairs Unit are looking into the incident, with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office set to review the findings independently, as is customary in cases of officer-involved shootings.
Meanwhile, the three officers are now in custody on a murder charge. They have also been suspended without pay pending the results of the investigation. While the other officers at the scene do not face any charges, they will all be investigated for their role in the incident., according to McCanus.