Hidalgo County D.A. Urges DPS To Stop Use of Shooting From Helicopter

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POSTED: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 5:16pm

UPDATED: Monday, November 5, 2012 - 9:55am

HIDALGO COUNTY - Hidalgo County D.A. Rene Guerra is urging DPS to re-think their policy on shooting from a moving helicopter.

"They can shoot from a helicopter, I'm just saying when you miss your target you don't have the ability to shoot," said Guerra. "All I have asked them to do is to stop it, until they re-evaluate it. My advice is that I would stop it all together."

Last Thursday in La Joya, DPS tactical flight officer Miguel Avila fired his weapon at a moving vehicle during a pursuit heading towards a school zone. Two people in the truck were killed and another injured. People are questioning if shooting was the best choice.

But what if they chose not to shoot, what if that car had gone into a school zone and killed 12 children?

"In those kind of situations it is obvious that everyone is going to be heart-broken and what have you. Now from my perspective we can't speculate with what might happen down the road. These decisions have to be made instantaneously, so if they make a quick practical decision, and you apply deadly force, and you stop a speeding vehicle from going down and causing mayhem down the road I think you are going to be heroic," said Guerra. "Now if you decide not to shoot, my recommendation is don't pursue because you are allowing somebody to go into a dangerous area and may cause severe loss of life."

The Texas ACLU is very upset over the loss of life and believes these DPS policies should be questioned.

"It is very concerning when you don't have any indication that somebody is engaged in criminal activity you use lethal force against them," said Krystal Gomez, TX ACLU Advocacy and Policy Council.

DPS Director Steven McCraw responds to comments like that one, with this statement: "There have been any number of people providing speculative commentary and opinions about this case, most of which has no basis in fact, and I would ask that they withhold judgment until the investigation is completed and reviewed by the district attorney and grand jury. Jumping to final conclusions without knowing all the facts and circumstances is not only counterproductive but it's irresponsible."

"I think what needs to happen is that we need an independent investigation into not just what happened last Thursday but looking into the DPS policies on this kind of issue," said Gomez.

And this request has been granted. The Texas Rangers are handing over the investigation to both the U.S.. Department of Justice Civil Rights and the FBI. This means all evidence and investigative reports, including the video and audio tapes of the incident, will be turned over.

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