SAN ANTONIO — A man shot and killed by a Bexar County Sheriff's deputy last week was suffering from a mental health crisis and needed assistance, his family said Wednesday.
The family of Nicholas Norris released a statement through their attorneys, and said he had a known history of mental health challenges made worse when he recently lost his mother to COVID-19.
“The tragedy of this situation is that Nick Norris was in need of help, and an officer who is sworn to help citizens ended up taking his life. We see this irony play out over and over with people who have mental health challenges. Police departments clearly need to improve how they train for and engage when someone is in an emotional crisis,” said Nicolette A. Ward, Senior Attorney at Romanucci & Blandin.“Our legal team is investigating all legal avenues in this matter and we call on Bexar County officials for complete transparency regarding the facts of this case.”
Sheriff Javier Salazar said that on Thursday, Sept. 30, a deputy who had stopped at a convenience store to take a break around 8 a.m. was told by a store clerk that Norris was outside and had been scaring customers over the past few days. The deputy went to talk to Norris; words were exchanged and he took off at a high rate of speed, Salazar said.
He said that after a brief pursuit that was called off, Norris was seen driving erratically on Potranco Road during rush hour, and after a struggle of some kind with a deputy he was shot once in the side. Salazar said video from a neighbor showed Norris driving with a deputy hanging out of his car and that he was violent after being shot.
Salazar added that BCSO had made contact with Norris several times over the past few weeks due to mental health issues. His family said he was in emotional distress the morning he died, and that he needed intervention and medical support.
“Nick was a beautiful and gentle soul and abhorred violence,” said Thomas Norris, his father. "His brothers and I always did our best to protect him as much as possible his whole life and can’t believe we were not there to help him at that moment when he needed it. He did not deserve to die, and our family is devastated by this tragic end to his life."