Family of 20-year-old shot and killed by APD filing wrongful death lawsuit

A family of a 20-year-old man shot and killed by an Austin Police Officer back in May filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and the police department. The family said the officer wrongfully shot the young man who was suffering from mental illness. The attorney said the young man was clearly suicidal when he was shot and surveillance captured from nearby homes proves it.

"Shoot me" Jason Roque is heard yelling and walking toward Austin Police Officers just after 11 in the morning of May 2nd in a Northeast Austin neighborhood. The situation escalated quickly when three fatal shots were fired from what APD said was the patrol rifle of Officer James Harvel, a 17-year veteran of the force.

“That is unacceptable, it is unconstitutional and it warrants criminal prosecution.” Jeff Edwards is representing the family and said it was one of the worst cases of police brutality he has seen and it was clear Roque was suffering from mental health issues.

“Instead of getting help, he was met with a flurry of bullets, no instantaneously, the product of deliberation, by a virtual sniper, 30 yards away, behind a fence with a rifle,” he said.

APD said they were told Roque was upset after an argument with his girlfriend and according to his mother was suicidal and armed. Interim Chief Brian Manley spoke shortly after the incident back in May, “They were giving him verbal commands he did not comply with those verbal commands the mother at this point was reportedly out in the driveway while all this was taking place and at one point the subject turned around towards the direction of the mother and began heading in that direction according to the accounts we have so far at this point or officer feared he was about to force their hand by taking an aggressive action against the mother so he fired and defense the mother that was in the driveway at that point."

Edwards said Roque who has no criminal history didn't pose a threat to anyone, but maybe himself.

“What makes this case so disturbing is that Jason had the gun to his head, was turned away and then you hear a shot and then you plainly see on this video the gun which was a bb gun, a fake gun, as the police were told, drop to the ground out of his way. Whether this is the result of the militarization of the Austin Police Department, whether it's the result of treating Hispanics differently than others, or treating minorities differently, ultimately that's going to be for a jury to judge,” Edwards said.

FOX 7 reached out to APD for comment regarding the pending lawsuit, they referred us to the city.

City officials released this statement Thursday:

"While we have not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are very familiar with the incident that occurred in May of this year. We are prepared to defend against the lawsuit."

FOX 7 also reached out to the Travis County DA’s office to see if they have reviewed the case or not yet.

As of Thursday evening, there was no response.

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