Ten years ago today, on March 8, 2013, handcuffed prisoner Daniel Saenz was shot in the back by El Paso Police Officer Jose Flores. Mr. Saenz, who had been having a mental crisis, was in the sally port of the El Paso County Jail.
The event was captured on video by the jail’s security cameras. You can watch it on the El Paso Times website here.
Officer Flores claimed that the shooting was accidental, but questions remain. Why did Officer Flores draw his weapon? Why did he have his finger on the trigger? Why didn’t he ask some of the scores of law enforcement agents who were just inside the jail for help?
How can this be okay?
Where are the players in this tragedy now?
Sheriff Richard Wiles, who was in charge of the jail at the time of the incident, announced his retirement yesterday.
District Attorney Jaime Esparza, whose office failed to secure an indictment against Officer Flores, is now the United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas.
Veronica Escobar, who was the County Judge for El Paso County, the elected official ultimately responsible for the County Jail, is now the U.S. Representative for the 16th District of Texas.
El Paso’s Mayor at the time, John Cook, has faded into irrelevance, as has the then City Manager, Joyce Wilson.
El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen died in January.
Officer Flores is back on the duty with the El Paso Police Department.
That tragedy disturbed me then and it disturbs me still now.