Dramatic 911 call played for jury in deadly officer-involved shooting trial

A dramatic 911 call was played for a jury Thursday that’s trying to decide if former Bastrop County Deputy Daniel Willis committed murder.  The shooting happened during a domestic violence case last year—in which Yvonne Smith was killed.

News media was not allowed to record the audio of the 911 call when it was played in the Bastrop Co. Courtroom, but a copy was provided to FOX 7 by defense attorneys.  

The call was coming from a house located north of Bastrop. The call was made by Amy Vela, who called for help after her boyfriend became violent.

"My boyfriend and his dad are drunk and they're fighting each other, and my boyfriend is going around breaking hitting (expletive) with a hammer and everything, but they're outside fighting. Can you guys please hurry," said Vela.

Deputy Daniel Willis was immediately sent to the home. It was the second time he was dispatched there that day. While in route, Amy Vela was still on the phone with dispatcher Hannah Gardner Perry.

"They both have weapons in their hands and they are trying to go at each other with weapons,” said Vela. Dispatcher Perry then questioned the weapons. “Sledge hammers and all kinds of stuff like that," said Vela.

Dispatcher Perry testified Thursday. She told Vela to hide as the situation escalated in the house.

"Oh my god ... I think someone is inside looking for me,” Vela said. “Okay, I want you to put the phone in your pocket but leave it on, okay?" advised Perry.    

When Deputy Willis arrived, things went from bad to worse. Vela said her boyfriend Chris Thomas and Yvette Smith had started struggling over a gun.  

In the audio, Smith is heard telling Mr. Thomas his condition was not stable.

"No, you’re not ... You're not in your right mind," said Smith.

Perry told the jury that she heard a man say he was going outside to “handle his business.” Moments later, the danger increased.

"He loaded the gun, he loaded the gun, he loaded the gun!” cried Vela. 

The dispatcher then proceeded with questions.

“Okay, is he trying to hurt himself or is he saying he is going to hurt my officer?" questioned Perry.

The answer to that remained unclear, but Deputy Willis was told about the fight over the gun.  As a result, he retrieved his AR-15 and urged Thomas’ father to seek cover with him. This is where both sides agree fatal missteps were made.

"Who has the gun right now?” asked Perry. "I think he put it on the table," said Vela.

The conversation continued.

"I want you to tell me if that gun moves," said Perry.

Defense attorney Robert McCabe says Willis never got the update about the gun.

“And had that information been given to Daniel Willis things might have turned out differently," said McCabe.

When interrogated, Willis said he fired on a person who he believed was armed.

A few seconds after the shots rang out, Vela told the dispatcher what had happened.

"They just shot the wrong person, they shot the wrong person,” said Vela.

Investigators did find a shotgun on a table and another near Yvette Smith’s body. Neither were finger printed to determine if Smith actually had a gun when she was shot.

Prosecutors are convinced the 911 call proves the murder charge against Willis. His attorney says it shows why the decision to use deadly force was justified.

A second dispatcher working the night of the shooting testified she told Deputy Willis a man with a gun was behind the door based on what Vela told the other dispatcher.

She also said she didn't update Willis that Vela later said the gun was on a table because she didn't hear it, and she didn't find out until after the shooting.

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