SAN ANTONIO — An Eyewitness News special report on the shooting death of an unarmed man in October spurred a call to action Wednesday afternoon, as family members of Charles "Chop" Roundtree demanded the termination of the San Antonio Police officers authorities say killed him, as well as for murder charges to be filed.
“The chief of police is protecting a system of abuse,” said Daryl Washington, a Dallas-based attorney.
Washington is representing Roundtree’s family in a civil suit against SAPD and Officer Steve Casanova.
“We know there is a training issue here in the City of San Antonio,” He said.
Washington has wrangled in court with SAPD in previous cases involving African-American men killed in officer involved shootings. In April 2017, Officer Robert Encina was cleared of any civil damages in the shooting death of Marquis Jones. The 23-year-old was shot in the back running from the drive-thru of a restaurant.
Jones’s family, who are appealing the decision, stood by Roundtree’s loved ones reliving a similar pain.
“The City of San Antonio will sit and look at the news,” Debbie Bush said. “They will sit back and judge. But they don’t come out to find out what’s really going on.”
Bush is Jones’s aunt. She was joined the rally and news conference seeking justice for Roundtree. She also tearfully vowed to join the fight as her family continues seek a different outcome.
“Because when your loved one dies you die too,” Bush said.
Roundtree’s attorney said he couldn’t believe San Antonio Police Chief William McManus had not fired Casanova. According to court filings, the officer remains at work until the investigation into the shooting is complete. He is on administrative duty.
Court document reveal a grand jury investigation into Roundtree’s death. Washington said anything less than a murder indictment for the officer is unacceptable.
“These officers have a policy. They shoot first and ask questions later,” he said.
Roundtree was killed at 217 Roberts Street in October of 2018. Casanova went to the home to investigate an assault claim. Body camera footage obtained by Eyewitness News of the shooting shows the Central patrol officer shining a flashlight through a door he knocked open.
In the video Casanova never identifies himself as an officer. He asks to see the hands of Davante Snowden who responds to the opening door.
According to police, Casanova thought Snowden was armed. He opened fire and Snowden was shot in the buttocks. Police said the same gunfire exited his body and struck Roundtree in the chest. The unarmed 18-year-old was sitting on the couch.
“He didn’t deserve to die that night,” Bernice Roundtree said.
She is Roundtree’s aunt and adoptive mother. His biological mother, Patricia Slack, was at the protest too.
“He was there waiting for his friend when he was shot and killed by a coward hiding behind a badge,” Bernice said.
The protesters are also asking District Attorney Joe Gonzales to release Snowden from jail. He was arrested for felony possession of weapon following the shooting. Police said they found a gun near the home.
But a DNA test ordered by the DA did not have Snowden’s DNA on it, according to his attorney.
San Antonio Police said due to the pending litigation they can not comment. The DA’s office said it is not their policy to comment on a pending criminal matter.