The following is attributed to Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales:
On March 25, 2022, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case against Deputy Brandin Moran for the shooting of Mr. Jesus Garcia. This case was heartbreaking, as is every case where a life is lost. Our hearts go out to Mr. Garcia’s family, and our victim’s services division will work to offer the family any support that it needs in this difficult time.
This office is committed to holding police accountable when they commit a wrongdoing. We have not shied away from indicting and prosecuting police officers who abuse their authority. We also maintain a list with officers who we will not rely on to prove a criminal case because those officers have a history of misconduct. We view police accountability as essential to issues around public safety and community trust.
We also, however, do not prosecute cases we cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and we take this responsibility just as seriously. We would violate our duty as prosecutors if we brought a case to trial not because there was an action that violated the law, but because we did not personally agree with the action taken.
A grand jury indictment only means that a jury found probable cause that a crime occurred, and not that the office can prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, which requires a much higher level of proof. After the grand jury issued the indictment, I and a team veteran prosecutors reviewed this case to see whether we could proceed under our heightened legal burden. Unlike in many cases, video captured the entire incident.
Consistent with our obligation to only prosecute cases we can prove, we decided we could not go forward for two reasons. First, Texas law allows police to use lethal force to defend to prevent or stop an aggravated kidnapping. In this case, Deputy Moran discovered Jesus Garcia in possession of a potentially lethal weapon while also pinning his wife on the ground and refusing to let her go. We would have to disprove that this defense applied beyond a reasonable doubt. We do not believe we can do that. We may quarrel with the law, but it is the law. Second, under Texas law, we would also have to disprove that Deputy Moran acted to defend Ms. Garcia’s life. Given that Mr. Garcia held a potentially lethal weapon and had his wife essentially held hostage, we do not believe we could make this showing beyond a reasonable doubt.
We know this result is disappointing to Mr. Garcia’s loved ones, and we also know that certain members of this community, which has seen too many police shootings, will be disappointed in the result. But once I realized we could not prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt, given the particularities of Texas law, it was our ethical duty to dismiss it.
Just because our office cannot prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, it does not mean that I will stop fighting for changes that decrease the likelihood of this happening again. I am committed to pushing for more social workers and mental health responders to handle situations that clearly stem from mental illness and crisis situations, as we believe this one did. When we ask police to deescalate these volatile situations, we are asking them to do too much, and we should not be surprised when terrible tragedy occurs. We know that these alternative crisis responder programs work– they have in other cities– and it can and will work here, too. I am committed to pushing for this reform in the county and city.
Again, my heart breaks for Mr. Garcia’s family. This case was a tragedy, and he will fight to make sure we can prevent them from happening in the future.