As the hectic and unprecedented year of 2020 nears its end, another killing of a Black man by a member of law enforcement is dominating the headlines.
On the evening of December 9th, La Marque police officer Jose Santos killed Joshua Feast, 22, after shooting him in the back as he attempted to run away from the officer.
According to investigators, Feast had been under surveillance after being identified as a person of interest in an ongoing investigation regarding recent shootings in the City of La Marque.
During surveillance on the night in question, investigators identified a man believed to be Feast outside of a home in the area. Officer Santos was dispatched to verify if the man that had been identified was indeed Feast. The officer was also tasked with arresting Feast on two outstanding felony warrants – felon in possession of a firearm and felony evading arrest.
After being pressured to release the police bodycam footage of the shooting, the City of La Marque released it and it shows the gruesome video details of the shooting and the interaction between Officer Santos and Feast.
In the video, there is initially no audio for about 30 seconds, but upon his arrival on the scene, a young Black man, who is believed to be Feast, is seen leaning into the passenger side of a vehicle. The audio eventually comes on and you can hear Officer Santos call out Feast by name, which prompted the young man to run away. Officer Santos immediately jumps out of his vehicle, continues to yell at Feast, pulls out his weapon and shoots him in the back as he runs away. According to Officer Santos, he shot Feast because he observed that he had a weapon in his hand. Feast continues to run and ends up collapsing at a home not too far from where he was confronted by Officer Santos. Officer Santos yells to Feast, commanding him to show his hands, and then calls for more units and medical assistance. Officer Santos also requests that dispatch instruct the first units on the scene to recover a gun that Feast allegedly dropped in the street as he was running away. According to investigators, a gun that Feast was holding fell to the ground after he was shot and a second gun was recovered after it fell out of his clothing.
After medics arrived, Feast was taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance, where he was pronounced dead.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, the City of La Marque and the La Marque Police Department are all conducting investigations, while Officer Santos has been placed on administrative leave, which is customary while the investigation continues.
In the meantime, nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump has been retained by the family of Joshua Feast to represent them as the investigation is underway.
Crump held a press conference with the family and revealed the findings from an independent autopsy that was requested by the family, revealing what Crump believes is that Feast was running away and posed no threat to Officer Santos.
“Based on what has been confirmed and revealed through the independent autopsy, eliminating any argument that Officer Santos’ actions were proper or even defensible, on behalf of the Feast family we now renew our demand that Officer Jose Santos be fired, charged for the killing of Joshua Feast,” Crump said.
According to Crump, upon the completion of the independent autopsy and the review of Joshua Feast’s medical records from the night of his death, the pathologist was able to conclusively determine that Joshua Feast was shot a single time in the back. Specifically, he stated, they now know that he (Feast) died due to injuries sustained by a single gunshot to the upper right side of the back and that he suffered extensive internal injuries including the bullet fracturing multiple ribs and causing severe hematomas. Upon medical staff placing a chest tube, his internal bleeding was so severe that he lost 55 millimeters of blood.
Crump went on to state that the facts revealed by the medical records and autopsy are consistent with the statements of multiple witnesses at the scene of Feast’s killing and are inconsistent with claims made thus far by law enforcement.
“It is horrifying that another young Black man has been killed at the hands of law enforcement,” Crump continued. “It is even more horrifying that he was shot in the back as he was running away, posing no threat to the officer. Not only did witnesses report that Police Officer Jose Santos failed to render aid to Joshua after shooting him, but he also kicked his body which had already been debilitated by Santos’ bullet. Based on the eyewitness’ account, it is our position that Officer Santos’ actions were criminal and derelict in duty as a first responder. We demand that the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into exactly why this tragedy occurred…Joshua’s family and the people of La Marque deserve answers now.”
According to Crump, this is not the first time that Officer Santos has had a disturbing run-in with a Black man. He states that a video from 2013 shows Santos, along with his colleagues, brutalizing yet another young Black man – beating him and holding his head under water as the all-too-familiar cries of “I can’t breathe” come from their victim.
“Now that Jose Santos has been identified as the police officer who killed Joshua Feast, we are left with even more questions and very few answers,” said Crump. “Why was Officer Santos ever permitted to wear a badge following that disgusting incident? Joshua Feast would still be alive today if the La Marque Police Department had done the right thing by demanding that their officers be individuals of sound moral character – not individuals like Jose Santos who had a documented history of tormenting and harming his fellow man. It was all but promised that Santos would use excessive force again as it had been previously condoned.”
Crump attended the funeral of Feast, as he was laid to rest this past Friday, December 18th.
Crump had been demanding that all of the video footage of the shooting be released. On Monday, December 21st, the La Marque Police Department released body camera footage of Officer Santos’ encounter with Feast.
In a Facebook post on La Marque Police Department’s page, on the day the body camera footage was released, La Marque Police Chief Kirk Jackson stated:
“We know our community has questions. We are releasing information as soon as we are able while maintaining the integrity of the investigation and complying with our legal obligations. We ask for continued patience as the investigation unfolds. Our condolences, thoughts and prayers remain with the family and friends of Joshua Feast.”
Crump plans to continue their quest for justice for Joshua Feast.
“Joshua’s family and the residents of La Marque deserve to know what transpired the night of this tragedy. Justice is not possible if the investigation continues to operate in secrecy, leaving the public – and Joshua’s family – in the dark.”