None of you have forgotten the horrific “accidental death” of handcuffed prisoner Daniel Saenz when he was shot by El Paso Police Officer Jose Flores in the sally port of the El Paso County Jail.
Officer Flores was fired for lying about the events that led to the incident, though a grand jury declined to indict him in the shooting.
Well, he’s back. According to this story in the El Paso Times, Officer Jose Flores has been reinstated on the El Paso Police Department.
Officer Jose Flores was reinstated to the El Paso Police Department in August after the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas appealed the department’s decision to fire Flores.
Arbitrator Mark Sherman ruled that while Flores violated use of force policies, the shooting was accidental and he should be reinstated.
“Obviously, this was a very tough case because there was a person who lost his life and he should not have lost his life,” said James Jopling, lawyer for the association that represented Flores in the arbitration. “Nevertheless, Officer Flores was a very good officer at the time this happened and he continues to be. The department and city are going to benefit from his service.”
Joplin said the incident was unfortunate, but that Flores has accepted his part in it.
It’s hard to imagine behavior more egregious than shooting a handcuffed prisoner, but it seems that even that won’t disqualify you from employment as an El Paso Police Officer.
Officer Flores’ lawyer, James Jopling, used the support of El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen, in his arguments to get Officer Flores’ job back.
Jopling argued on behalf of Flores, saying he “accepts responsibility for his part in this tragic event, but agrees with the Chief of Police (Greg Allen) — that he was placed in an ‘uncontrollable situation.’ ”
He added that the shooting was accidental and the actions of Saenz and Romero caused the gun to accidentally fire.
“At the same time that Officer Flores was reaching toward Mr. Romero, Mr. Saenz was pushing off against the curb of the sally port driveway, using his body to throw Mr. Romero backward,” Jopling argued.
“According to the EPPD’s use-of-force expert, this event was completely unforeseeable. Officer Flores did not expect Mr. Romero to go flying across the driveway. On the video, as Mr. Romero was thrown backward, his left hand can be seen striking Officer Flores’ gun, causing it to discharge.”
I’ve looked at the video, and that’s not how it looked to me.
And, gosh, I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Mr. Saenz wouldn’t have been shot if Officer Flores had left his gun in its holster.
This is a bad situation and there’s plenty of blame to go around.
It seems to me that Chief Allen thinks that police officers are a separate class and deserve more consideration than your average citizen.
And it seems to me that if District Attorney Jaime Esparza couldn’t get some kind of indictment from this event, he wasn’t really trying. He tried to go easy on the officer, and now that cop is back on the force.
And remember the reaction of our elected officials to the shooting? That’s right. There was a enthusiastic collective silence. Let Chief Allen say something bad about the Black Lives Matter movement, and everyone is up in arms. But have a cop shoot a handcuffed prisoner, and no one says a thing. A city police officer shot a handcuffed citizen at a county facility, and none of our elected officials could muster the outrage to even comment.
If you leave the house today, pray you don’t have an encounter with one of El Paso’s Finest.