San Antonio Police Chief William McManus offered some scathing, heart-felt remarks to an overflow crowd at a police support event on Saturday morning.
The Chief called the body camera footage of a vicious attack on two of his officers the worst, most unprovoked assault he’s ever seen.
Both the crowd of supporters and the officers in the packed McDonald’s restaurant seemed to agree.
"That was probably the toughest video that I have watched in my career," Chief McManus said.
Speaking to an overflow crowd at a “Coffee with the Cops” event, McManus spoke from his heart.
"I have never seen such evil, such calculation and such intent in a situation like that. I don't know how that much evil can get into one person," he said.
McManus added that the video clearly demonstrates that Officers Miguel Moreno and Julio Cavazos did everything right when they approached two men, intending to ask them about a nearby vehicle burglary.
"They calmly rode up next to them and said, 'Hey guys, come here for a minute.' They both got out of the vehicle. The one, the non-shooter walked over to the car, put his hands up on the hood. Nothing. No voices raised. No nothing,” Chief McManus described. “The other individual, very intentionally reached into his waistband, pulled out a revolver, took a shooting stance, and fired away as though he had done it before."
Officer Doug Greene told the group that the event was a great comfort to all the officers in attendance.
“Just your presence, that's it, just your presence here means a lot to us. And thank you chief for what you said because the community needs to hear that. Myself, as an officer, and all of us officers need to hear that from you,” Officer Green said to a thunderous applause. “So thank you again. I can't say it enough, San Antonio, Texas. Man! There's no place like it. There's no place like it!"
Here are more complete remarks made by Chief McManus:
I've been through dozens of police officers dying in the line of duty throughout my career, and they all affect you. But for some reason, and I don't know what it is, but this one, for some reason, has really impacted me and the department.
I think there are so many emotions that are going through police officers' heads right now, including mine. And I will tell you that I am angry about this. I'm angry for a lot of different reasons.
I am angry at the police haters. I am sick of the police haters. We protect them, we defend them and they give us the big F-U. And I'm sick of it, as are all the other police, not only in San Antonio but across the country.
I have a lot of opinions. I think some of them are actually fact about how this situation has been created but I will not go there. But I will say this. I watched the video yesterday morning, from the officers body cams. That was probably the toughest video that I have watched in my career. And if you watch that video and you don't have tears in your eyes, then you're a rock. You are an inanimate rock with no feelings.
The cold and calculated way that this individual shot and killed Officer Moreno and seriously wounded Officer Cavazos was incredible. I have never seen such evil, such calculation, and such intent in a situation like that. I don't know how that much evil can get into one person.
And at the end, Officer Cavazos was a hero through this event. I talked to him yesterday in the hospital. I spoke to him in the hospital yesterday. He's not able to talk. He was a hero in this incident. He was shot first, he returned fire, reloaded, returned fire again, before he finally struck the shooter. And when the shooter went down, at the corner of Evergreen and Howard, [the shooter] put his one remaining bullet into his own head.
If you don't respect your own life, how do you respect someone else's life?
I went to roll call, to the dog watch roll call at central when I left the hospital Thursday and I spoke to the officers and I went to roll call yesterday, where Julio and Miguel were assigned. And you walk into a room and, you know what? Somebody from the media asked me “How does it feel, chief, to have two of your officers, one killed and one wounded?”
And I thought that that was a rather silly question. I said, “Let me personalize it for you. How would you feel if someone from your family, if that happened to them?”
When I walk into a roll call realizing that any time a police officer approaches anyone for any reason this could happen.
These officers were on directed patrol. They walked up to two individuals. They calmly rode up next to them and said, “Hey guys, come here for a minute.” They both got out of the vehicle. The one, the non-shooter walked over to the car, put his hands up on the hood. Nothing. No voices raised. No nothing.
The other individual, very intentionally reached into his waistband, pulled out a revolver, took a shooting stance, and fired away as though he had done it before. Cavazos went down first, then Moreno, and the rest is, here we are today.
Forgive me for going on and on but I missed the point I was going to make.
My message to the officers in roll call and to the department was this: When you approach someone on the street, expect the worst could happen, because it could and then de-escalate from there. But be on guard. Don't take it for granted that nobody's going to hurt you because they will if they want to. Or they'll try if they want to.
Thousands and thousands and thousands of times a day, police officers are contacting people for one reason or another. And of all those thousands of times, nothing happens. They are good interactions.
But the haters will say that, you know, that we mistreat people or, you know, “You were rude to me” or “You were mean to me, you were this to me, you were that to me.”
How do you approach somebody on guard, on alert, knowing that something could happen to you without maybe somebody feeling like you're not being friendly enough? But that's why.
Thank you very much for being here. Be safe everybody.