HAYS COUNTY, Texas - The family of Hays County inmate Joshua Wright, who was shot and killed by a corrections officer in December, held a demonstration in San Marcos Sunday to protest and call for transparency in the investigation into his death.
Community organizations Mano Amiga, Hays County Jail Advocates, the Caldwell/Hays Examiner, Fierce Madres and the Austin Justice Coalition all joined the family outside Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler's office to demand the release of body cam footage, the immediate removal of the corrections officer from duty, and Cutler's resignation.
"He was a good person. He was a good dad," Wright’s daughter Xyreena Wright said.
On Dec. 12, Wright was shot and killed by a Hays County corrections officer who was guarding him while he received undisclosed medical treatment at Ascension Seton's Kyle hospital.
The Hays County Sheriff's Office says Wright, in an attempt to escape, assaulted the officer and ran through the emergency room. The correction officer fired his firearm and struck Wright, HCSO said. Despite life-saving measures from medical staff, Wright died from his injuries.
"Go ahead and release the video. Prove us wrong if we’re lying, prove us wrong if we ain’t making no sense but what you’re saying and what you’re giving us right now does not make any sense," Wright’s sister Adrian Wright said.
The corrections officer who shot Wright was placed on administrative leave according to the county, but he did recently return to work pending the outcome of the investigation. Protestors said they wan the corrections officer to be removed from duty. They also said Sheriff Cutler needs to resign.
"The way that they betrayed him when it all went down, like he wasn’t a human," Wright’s best friend Isiah Galloway said.
"Wearing an orange jumpsuit does not make you an animal and does not mean your life is not important," Wright family friend Natalie Freeman said.
The family initially demanded on Jan. 2 for the release of the body camera footage and surveillance video from the night Wright was killed. A spokesperson for the Hays County Sheriff's Office told FOX 7 Austin at the time there is no timeline for the release of the video.
A few days later, Hays County made a statement saying that the Texas Rangers had taken over the investigation and had requested bodycam video as well as all other information related to the investigation into the shooting not be released until after their investigation is complete.
The county also said Ascension Seton had raised concerns over the "inadvertent disclosure" of privileged third-party medical information via video footage, meaning when bodycam footage is released, it will need to be reviewed and potentially redacted due to this.
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"Josh’s mom expressed that when she heard her son was incarcerated, she was relieved, she felt her son would be safe and this would give him a chance to get back on his feet. Instead, she experienced death wrenching agony when numerous Texas Rangers showed up at her door and informed her her son had been killed," Freeman said.
Wright was in Hays County Jail for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, bail jumping, failure to appear, reckless driving, criminal mischief, and evading arrest and detention.
"Josh battled inward demons, that would drop him down, but he would get back up. He wasn’t perfect, but no one standing here is," Freeman said.