SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) -After reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death of combat veteran Damien Daniels, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said, “I believe this incident should have never happened.”
Monday, Daniels’ family called and asked for assistance. Deputies “found him despondent “ and provided the family with information on how to obtain a mental health warrant.
On the second day, deputies responded to a call from the Red Cross concerning Daniels.
”A confrontation ensued that resulted in the shooting death of Daniels,” said Wolff. “The information I have is that he had a gun and the deputies were challenged.”
He’s asking County Manager David Smith and the Mental Health Department to review the case and recommend changes in policy.
“ In cases like this, with known mental health issues, it may have been better to send crisis mental health professionals rather than deputies with guns and uniforms,” said Smith. “I am also asking Smith to determine what additional mental health staff would be required to augment our Mental Health Department enabling us to better respond to cases like this.”
Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar is defending the actions of the three deputies, who are on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Salazar says his deputies tried to de-escalate the situation for 30 minutes on Liberty Field in West Bexar County. He said they offered him help, but he refused, and they finally attempted to detain Daniels for his own safety. The sheriff says they tried to disarm him so that they could take him into custody, but they were unable to get the gun. They tried to tase him, but Salazar says the taser had no effect on him.
“At a certain point, he gained control of his weapon. It was within his shirt,” said Salazar, referencing body cam video. “I believe he could have manipulated toward that trigger and fired it while there’s deputies on him.”
Salazar said they were “in a life or death struggle” for about 2 minutes over Daniels’ gun. He told reporters that the deputies realized they were not going to gain control of the weapon, so they had to take “unfortunate, but drastic measures.”
The deputies involved were a 52-year-old with 14 years in the sheriff’s office, a 49-year-old who’s a 23-year veteran, and a deputy who had graduated from the academy just days before the incident. She had worked as a BCSO detention officer for 16 years.