SAN ANTONIO — The aftermath of what happened at 217 Roberts St. on Oct. 17, 2018 depends on who you talk to.
One side does not believe justice has occurred. The other stands behind the action of the police officer who killed an unarmed bystander.
Life for Charles Roundtree Jr. ended inside of a home San Antonio Police said was festering with crime. 217 Roberts St. was a documented drug house, by police records. In fact, when Roundtree was killed, SAPD Chief William McManus spoke more about the home than the dead teenager. The city’s Dangerous Response Assessment Team (DART) had the home on its list.
One year after the shooting, the home is scheduled to be demolished. The most horrific incident at 217 Roberts St. happened not because of the alleged drug deals it was so infamous with law enforcement for—it happened after a San Antonio Police officer opened fire through the home’s front door.
“They were really waiting on me to get up and get something to eat,” Davante Snowden said.
Snowden was sitting in the front room of the house with Taylor Singleton and Roundtree that morning. Singleton testified in court that she came over to take Snowden to get food.
Officer Steve Casanova, and at least two backup officers, came to the house to investigate an assault claim. A woman selling caldo de pollo over Facebook was coming to make an early-morning delivery.
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She told Casanova her husband was punched by someone who didn’t want them parking on that side of the street. The alleged attacker, she said, went into 217 Roberts St.
Footage of the incident from Casanova’s body camera was sent to KENS 5 Eyewitness News in May from an unidentified party. The same video was presented in court. It shows Casanova knocking on the door. When the door opens, he says, “What’s up?”
Snowden, speaking to the media for the first time, said they had no idea police were outside.
“I’m trying to see who it is,” Snowden said. “I’m trying to protect my people and see if they are alright.”
Casanova said he saw Snowden with a gun. The Central patrol officer opened fire. Police said he shot twice and retreated to the street, at which point SAPD moved into position. They surrounded the home, and Singleton and Snowden came out of it. Several others, including an elderly man on a cane, were forced out by police.
Roundtree died inside of the home. A report to the attorney general's office from SAPD revealed a punctured lung and heart.
“I wish he could have walked out of there with us,” Singleton said. “But he couldn’t do that.”
McManus said Casanova’s gunfire traveled through Snowden’s backside and into Roundtree’s chest. Singleton and Snowden have a different story. They said Casanova’s second shot hit Roundtree as he jumped up from a chair.
They said the 18-year-old collapsed in the hallway where he struggled to stay alive, but died.
“He was a baby. He was young,” Singleton said.
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Snowden was arrested eight days later. He would spend 10 months in jail for a crime that a Bexar County criminal jury said never happened.
He was acquitted on a weapon charge.
“It was one of the best feelings of my life,” Snowden said. “It was hard knowing that I didn’t do nothing.”
Casanova returned to patrolling the streets of San Antonio. A Bexar County Grand Jury voted not to hold him criminally responsible for Roundtree’s death.
Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales won’t grant an interview about the case he described as priority. Through a person who works in his office he said: “No comment.”
SAPD is restricted from talking about the case because Roundtree’s family is suing them in federal court for wrongful death.
A trial for the case has not been scheduled.
“Just because I’m home don’t mean nothing,” Snowden said.
He and Singleton wanted to talk about the loss of Roundtree one year later at his grave. He may be laid to rest, but they still have no peace.
A year of pain and controversy for a grieving family, friends struggling to make sense of the unthinkable and a police department trying to navigate the outcome of an officer-involved shooting.