Could deputies have saved suspect's life?

February 5, 2010 9:17:43 PM PST
In the moments after the quadruple shooting that killed two, Eyewitness News showed you as deputies marked a crime scene while the suspected killer was dying -- the same man who had allegedly just pointed a gun at them. Now a local civil rights attorney questions whether more could have been done to save that suspect's life. The sheriff's office says so far that its officers did nothing wrong, that they followed department policy in treating the murder suspect who had just opened fire on them.

Investigators say Jose Delerosa, 18, opened fire on deputies after allegedly stealing the SUV of one of four people investigators say he just shot. Authorities say he crashed the 4-Runner and crawled out shooting at deputies who returned fire, ultimately killing him. Victim's nephew William Gann said, "God takes care of things in mysterious ways sometimes."

Gann says his aunt 51-year-old Judy Watts is one of two who Delerosa killed when he and another man burst into Watts' home Thursday night on Landfair. He says Delerosa got what he deserved.

"A few bullets is a lot cheaper than 20 years of feeding him and letting him watch TV," Gann said.

After being shot, our video shows Delerosa lying on the side of the road with deputies only watching for at least six minutes. A sheriff's spokesperson tells us deputies immediately called paramedics once they opened fire on Delerosa. But some, like Houston civil rights attorney Randall Kallinen, say they should have done more to help save his life.

Kallinen said, "Once he's under control, the officers and the government that employs them have a moral and a legal obligation to render at least minimum aid."

Compare this case, Kallinen says, to that in 2008 of Roland Carnaby, who was shot and killed by Houston police. Kallinen says similarly that officers didn't help Carnaby. He too only received medical treatment when EMS arrived, though officers were cleared ultimately of any wrongdoing.

The actions of deputies Thursday night are being investigated as is standard in any officer-involved shooting. A sheriff's office spokesperson tells us EMS was immediately called when deputies opened fire on the suspect, and that department policy does not require deputies to do anything more for the man they shot other than calling paramedics and making sure the scene is secure.

Christina Garza with the Harris County Sheriff's Department said, "Our deputies are not trained medical personnel. It is their policy, procedure and training to immediately call for trained medical personnel to assist in the event of a medical emergency."

Delerosa was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. Investigators are still looking for another man involved in the quadruple shooting. The two officers who opened fire on the suspect are on paid administrative leave while this shooting is being investigating.


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