SAN ANTONIO — Three San Antonio police officers have been charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a woman who was experiencing what the city's police chief said was a “mental health crisis.”
Sgt. Alfred Flores and Officers Eleazar Alejandro and Nathaniel Villalobos were suspended without pay and later arrested on murder warrants in the shooting death of Melissa Perez, 46, when she refused police orders to come out of her apartment, Police Chief William McManus said Friday.
“The officers' actions were not consistent with SAPD's policy and training,” McManus said during a Friday night news conference.
“They placed themselves in a situation where they used deadly force which was not reasonable given all the circumstances as we now understand them,” McManus said.
One of the three charged officers opened fire, McManus said, after Perez first threw a glass candlestick at the officers then swung a hammer at them. All three officers then fired when Perez approached them again with the hammer, hitting her at least twice, according to McManus.
Court records do not list attorneys who could speak on behalf of the three officers.
Perez was suspected of cutting the wires to a fire alarm, a felony, at the apartment complex and was talking to fire officials about 12:30 a.m. Friday when an officer approached and tried to get her to walk toward a patrol car, McManus said.
Perez was speaking to a fire department official outside the complex when an unidentified officer arrived and is heard on body camera video calling “hey lady, get over here,” with Perez refusing and walking away.
“It appeared that Miss Perez was having a mental health crisis,” McManus said without offering further explanation, and she then ran into her apartment.
The video then shows an officer on the patio of Perez's apartment removing a window screen as Perez shouts “stop it” and “you ain't got no warrant.”
An unidentified officer shouts “you're going to get shot,” to which Perez replies “shoot me - you ain't got no warrant.”
The sound of glass breaking is later heard followed by two volleys of gunshots.
McManus took no questions, citing ongoing investigations into the shooting by the police department's Internal Affairs and Civil Rights divisions and the Bexar County district attorney's Civil Rights Division.
Other officers were also at the scene, but none are expected to be charged although all will be investigated for their actions, McManus said.
“This incident will continue to be thoroughly investigated, as are all officer involved shootings,” McManus said while expressing condolences to Perez's family.