San Antonio police officers face murder charges following the shooting of a woman in her apartment during a distressing mental health episode, announced the city’s police chief. Sgt. Alfred Flores and officers Eleazar Alejandro and Nathaniel Villalobos from the San Antonio Police Department have been arrested and suspended without pay. The charges stem from the fatal shooting of 46-year-old Melissa Perez, who was killed after she refused to comply with police orders to leave her apartment, as reported by The Associated Press.
According to Chief William McManus, the situation escalated when Perez threw a glass candlestick and swung a hammer at the officers. In response, one officer opened fire, prompting all three officers to discharge their weapons. Perez sustained at least two gunshot wounds.
During a news conference, Chief McManus expressed that the officers’ actions did not align with the department’s policies and training. He acknowledged that they had resorted to the use of deadly force, which he deemed unreasonable based on the circumstances known at present.
The incident unfolded around 12:30 a.m. on Friday, after Perez was suspected of tampering with a fire alarm at the apartment complex. McManus stated that Perez was engaged in conversation with fire officials outside when an officer approached her. Body camera footage captured the officer instructing Perez to come closer, but she retreated into her apartment, uttering, “Shoot me − you ain’t got no warrant.”
The video further revealed the officer climbing onto Perez’s apartment patio and removing a window screen, warning her that she could be shot. McManus commented that Perez appeared to be experiencing a mental health crisis. For over 30 minutes, multiple officers surrounded the patio, engaging in communication with Perez, as explained by police Lt. Michelle Ramos in a video accompanying the body camera footage.
As captured in the video, Perez struck the window with the hammer and then ran back towards the patio door. It was at this point that one officer discharged their weapon. Subsequently, all three officers began firing their guns when Perez approached the patio door.
The San Antonio Police Department’s Internal Affairs and Civil Rights divisions, along with the Bexar County district attorney’s Civil Rights Division, are conducting an investigation into the incident.