Investigators: We Believe Gilbert Flores, Shot by Texas Deputies, Was Holding a Knife

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By Erin McClam

Investigators believe that a Texas man shot to death by deputies with his hands up was holding a knife, the sheriff told reporters on Wednesday.

Questions were raised about the killing of Gilbert Flores, 41, after a bystander’s cellphone video showed him holding up his hands before deputies opened fire. In that video, recorded from a distance, one of Flores’ hands is obscured by a utility pole.

Investigators are examining a second video of the shooting, not yet made public.

“We believe that Mr. Flores had a knife in his hand, and that video will help us have a better idea of exactly what he had in his hand,” Sheriff Susan Pamerleau of Bexar County told reporters.

She said that sheriff’s investigators had sent the video to a state crime lab in hopes that it can be enhanced.

“There’s no doubt that what’s shown in that video is of great concern to all of us,” the sheriff said. “But we also want to get this right.”

Authorities have said the deputies answered a call about a domestic disturbance and found a woman with a cut on her head, a baby who they believed might have been injured, and an armed suspect.

Pamerleau declined to say how many times the deputies fired or how many times Flores was hit. She said the deputies tried to hit Flores with a Taser but failed to make contact.

The two deputies involved, Greg Vasquez and Robert Sanchez, have been placed on paid administrative leave, as is customary after shootings by law enforcement officers.

In audio published Wednesday by the online archive service Broadcastify, sheriff’s dispatchers said that Flores had a knife in his hand during the encounter and was “threatening suicide by cops.”

A lawyer for the Flores family, Thomas J. Henry, told reporters on Wednesday that he wants the second video made public.

“When you put your hands up in this country, I believe most people think that you're giving up and you're no longer a threat,” he said.