Body camera video released in fatal Texas police shooting of Joshua Feast

Doha Madani

Body camera footage has been released in the fatal police shooting of Joshua Feast, a 22-year-old Black man who died earlier this month in Texas.

Feast, 22, was fatally shot on Dec. 9 when a police officer in La Marque — a city about 40 miles southeast of Houston — was attempting to arrest him on outstanding warrants, the La Marque Police Department said.

Following multiple public information requests following the shooting, body camera video of the incident was released on Monday by the Galveston County Sheriff's Office, which is the agency investigating the incident.

Officer Jose Santos was looking for Feast as part of an investigation into two recent drive-by shootings, according to police. Santos found Feast while patrolling at about 11:10 p.m. that night and saw Feast was holding a gun, police said.

Body camera video released by police shows Santos driving and exiting his car as someone leaves the passenger door of another vehicle. Santos appears to open his driver’s side door and fire a shot at Feast as he runs away.

It’s unclear whether Santos or Feast speak to each other, as the video does not have audio for the first 30 seconds and picks up after Feast is shot.

The La Marque Police Department said Monday that the lack of audio is due to a manufacturer feature where the body cameras only record video for the first half minute as a buffer.

Axon, the camera’s manufacturer, confirmed to NBC News that cameras records a 30-second video clip prior to being turned on to provide "context" in what's called a pre-event buffer. Cameras can be configured to record audio and up to two minutes prior to being turned on, but the 30-second option without audio if frequently used because it is the most battery efficient.

Feast appears to stumble after he runs away and an unidentified object is dropped to the ground, based on the video footage. Police said Monday that the object was a handgun later recovered by officers and turned over to the Galveston County Sheriff's Office.

Santos chases Feast to the driveway of a nearby residence, where Feast collapses to the ground. The officer requests medics to the scene as well as backup, asking that someone recover the firearm that was dropped in the chase, according to the video.

“Show me your hands,” the officer said.

“Help me, help me, help me,” Feast responded from the ground.

Santos appears to hold Feast at gunpoint while he is on the ground, asking nearby residents who approached the scene to keep back, according to the video.

Feast died at a hospital following the shooting after being transferred from the scene by an ambulance. A second handgun was found in Feast’s clothing as he was being treated in the ambulance, police said.

An autopsy of Feast’s body showed he died of a single gunshot wound to the back.

Greg Cagle, the attorney representing Santos, said Monday that though there was no audio in that portion of the video, the officer called Feast by name and told him to drop his weapon after seeing Feast with a gun. Santos fired after Feast pulled the weapon into his hand, his attorney said.

“When you look at the video, frame by frame, that’s not how the real world works,” Cagle said. “When Officer Santos sees Mr. Feast go for the firearm in his waistband, that’s when he has to make a firing decision.”

Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset told CBS News last week that while he had not seen the video, he had been told by investigators that it shows Feast pointed a gun at the officer.

Ben Crump, a civil rights attorney representing Feast’s family, called the death “senseless” and alleged that the body camera video released on Monday disputed the sheriff’s claims that Feast pointed a gun. Crump alleged that members of the sheriff’s office lied to protect Santos.

“Because it is clear that the Sheriff’s department cannot be trusted to evaluate and relay the evidence truthfully and impartially, we demand oversight from the Texas Attorney General and an independent investigation from the Department of Justice,” Crump said.

Trochesset declined to comment on Crump's accusation Monday and told NBC News that investigators are "gathering every piece of evidence we have to turn over to the district attorney’s office."

Crump also alleged that Santos had a "propensity to use excessive force against Black people," citing a 2013 case where Santos was named as a defendant.

Santos was named in a 2013 lawsuit while he was employed at the Galveston Police Department, which alleged that he and a fellow officer used excessive force on Reginald Deon Davis in March of that year.

Davis allegedly pulled over to sleep in his car following a friend’s birthday because he wanted to rest before driving home. The officers allegedly hit Davis, purposefully submerged his face under water and struck him with a stun gun, according to the 2013 complaint. It is unclear if Santos disputed or confirmed the allegations in the complaint.

Davis voluntarily dismissed the case in August 2014, about a year after filing, court records showed. Santos resigned from the Galveston Police Department in December 2013, the city confirmed to NBC News on Monday, although it did not state the reason for his resignation.

Santos was placed on administrative leave from the Le Marque Police Department, per the department’s policy, while an investigation into the Feast shooting occurs, Police Chief Kirk Jackson said during a December 10 press conference.

"We are releasing information as soon as we are able while maintaining the integrity of the investigation and complying with our legal obligations," the chief said Monday. "We ask for continued patience as the investigation unfolds. Our condolences, thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Joshua Feast.”

Though there have been protests demanding Santos’ termination, any “employment action” before the investigation concludes could “jeopardize the criminal investigation,” La Marque City Manager Tink Jackson said in Monday’s released statement.

“There is a manner and process in which any personnel actions must be taken, so they comply with the law,” the city manager said. “That takes time. We ask for your continued patience."