Texas grand jury convenes on officer's fatal shooting of Mexican man

By Marice Richter

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas grand jury began proceedings on Wednesday over the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Mexican national in February, another in a series of cases that raised questions about racial bias in U.S. policing.

The Tarrant County grand jury in Fort Worth will decide whether to indict Grapevine police officer Robert Clark in the Feb. 20 shooting of Ruben Garcia Villalpando.

The married father of four was shot twice in the chest on the side of a highway after a brief chase that ended outside the limits of Grapevine, a suburb near Fort Worth and Dallas.

Villalpando was intoxicated at the time with a blood alcohol level of 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit, the Fort-Worth Star Telegram reported.

The shooting set off rallies calling for the officer to face prosecution for a shooting that protesters believe was racially motivated, and for police to release a dashcam video of the incident.

Police have said the officer acted appropriately.

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office said the video would be released after the grand jury decision.

Domingo Garcia, an attorney for the family, said he had watched the video along with the family.

“It is clear that Ruben had his hands in the air and was trying to comply with the officer," Garcia said. "You could hear the officer’s rant and his unprofessional and disrespectful use of profanity."

Grapevine police said in a statement that Villalpando repeatedly ignored Clark's instructions to stay still and walked toward the squad car.

"The video shows Mr. Villalpando raising his hands and/or placing them on his heard, while continuing to walk toward Officer Clark," the statement said.

Clark, an officer with the Grapevine Police Department for less than a year, was placed on leave after the shooting but has returned to work at a desk job, police spokesman Robert Eberling said.

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the shooting death of Villalpando.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)