Newly released body camera footage shows the harrowing series of events that led to the fatal shooting of an unarmed African-American teen by San Antonio police.
The video, obtained by local San Antonio station KENS 5 News, depicts the Oct. 17, 2018, encounter that spiraled into a police shooting that left 18-year-old Charles “Chop” Roundtree, Jr. dead.
Officer Steve Casanova fired the shot that struck Roundtree in the chest, mortally wounding him, according to the station. Police said the gunfire was actually meant for Roundtree’s friend, Davante Snowden, who authorities said took a “threatening” stance toward Casanova.
The incident unfolded as Casanova and two fellows officers responded to a complaint from Maria Herrera and Esteban Preciado, who was delivering an order of Mexican-style chicken soup to a home on a “troubled” block on the city’s West Side, the San Antonio Current reported. The pair told police a man had come out of a home located at 217 Roberts St. and struck Preciado in the face for parking on his block.
Casanova, who was already familiar with the home, logged the complaint and visited the property with two other officers. As reported KENS 5, San Antonio police had visited the house 130 times before, including 64 visits that were for drugs and six for gun-related incidents.
Bodycam footage shows Casanova knocking on the door, which was slightly open, before swinging it open to reveal Snowden, 18, Roundtree and eyewitness Taylor Singleton sitting in the living room.
“What’s up, man?” Casanova asks as he opens the front door. He doesn’t identify himself as a police officer.
“Hey, who the f–k is this?” Snowden responds, getting up from the couch with one hand tucked in his pants. That’s when the officer orders the teen to “lemme see your f—–g hands” before firing two shots into the home.
After announcing that shots had been fired, Casanova and the other officers retreat from the property and take up a position across the street. When a fellow officer asks what he saw, Casanova replies: “He had a f——g gun and pulled it out.”
It isn’t long before backup arrives and police eventually allow a man who was eating on the front porch to slowly crawl out from the yard. A pit bull follows him out, however, and becomes aggressive with police, prompting one of the officers to shoot and kill it.
The occupants of the home were then ordered out one at a time with their hands up as they walked backward toward police.
Snowden, 18, suffered a gunshot to his backside and was taken to a local hospital for treatment. San Antonio police said the same bullet that injured the teen was the same one that killed Roundtree, who died inside the home. The bullet reportedly ripped through Snowden’s buttocks and into Roundtree’s chest.
Singelton recalled things differently and said the shot that hit Snowden had gone into the wall toward a neighbor’s home. Roundtree was killed by another shot from Casanova, she said.
“He suffered,” Singleton told KENS 5 at the time. “I watched him die.”
“It’s messed up because nobody was doing anything,” she added. “And then you have an 18-year-old boy who accidentally gets shot.”
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus called the shooting a “very, very unfortunate, tragic incident.”
“Unfortunately, that person who was just sitting there was killed by a bullet fired at someone who was attempting to use deadly force against police,” he said, later lauding Casanova for his “professional” handling of the situation.
“There was nothing hostile about it and unfortunately the reaction from the individual with the gun was something he should not have done,” the police chief added.
Casanova is heard giving his account of the incident in the video:
“The front door was like slightly open, so I knocked and it swung open. The guy with the gun was sitting down directly in front of me, there was a female next to him, and another young kid next to him. Like I said, they both kinda matched the description I was given, and he said ‘Who the fuck are you?’ and then he looked at me, and I guess it took him a while to realize that I was an officer, so when he did that, he goes, ‘Man you can’t fucking-’ and then he kinda stopped what he was doing, and I couldn’t see exactly what was in his waist, because his hand was covering it. Then he kinda moved it slightly and I saw a gun. But he took like two steps towards me, and then he kinda went to the side and he was like lifting his shirt up, so I fired I believe two rounds at him.”
Casanova was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, but remains employed by San Antonio police.
Roundtree’s family has since filed a wrongful death suit against the city, arguing that the young man was unarmed and that police failed to give him proper medical attention at the scene.
Snowden would be arrested that day and a gun was found in a neighboring backyard, but his attorney says the man’s DNA was not found on the firearm.