After six years, the grieving family of Cameron Redus at long last deserves closure, and the University of the Incarnate Word’s current leadership needs to move on from the tragic and wrongful shooting death that did not happen under its watch.
Simply put, the university needs to take responsibility for the wrongful conduct of a rogue cop on the university force that led to the off-campus fatal shooting of Redus, an unarmed honors student. It must make amends to the family.
Only last week, faculty members and an administration member I spoke with privately expressed hope that the case would be settled and that Redus would be honored with an on-campus memorial. President Thomas Evans, who came to the university two years ago, they said, is a more compassionate and pragmatic leader than his predecessor, longtime UIW President Lou Agnese.
Agnese, they noted, refused to entertain any settlement that required the university to admit wrong or acknowledge the university’s failure to adequately check the background of the officer who killed Redus.
Prior to joining the UIW force, Christopher Carter had nine jobs with eight different law enforcement entities from 2004 to 2011, according to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.
One week after both parties argued the technicalities of the status of UIW police force before the Texas Supreme Court, it’s time to recognize that the larger issue here is a moral one that surmounts all legal arguments. Lawyers, no doubt, continue to advise the UIW administration not to settle. In the court of public opinion, the university would be wise to close this terrible chapter and move forward with a focus on all that is good about UIW.
To refresh memories about the fatal off-campus shooting on Dec. 6, 2013, Redus, 23, was a UIW honors student one semester away from graduating. Redus joined fellow students at the Brass Monkey bar on the St. Mary’s Strip to celebrate the end of the fall semester.
He left the bar after midnight, inebriated, behind the wheel of his Ford Ranger pickup, headed for his off-campus apartment in Alamo Heights. An autopsy showed he was legally drunk and had traces of marijuana in his system.
Carter was driving a UIW police truck on a late-night food run to Whataburger when he said he saw Redus weaving northbound on Broadway and decided to pursue him, not knowing he was a student but exercising his authority as a peace officer to operate off-campus in Alamo Heights. Redus safely reached his apartment complex, parked, and exited his truck to enter his apartment.
Carter, however, had pulled up behind him and finally turned on his vehicle’s flashing lights. What happened over the next 11 minutes has never been resolved in an open court. Readers can listen to an audio recording of the incident that was released more than two years later.
The official autopsy contradicted Carter’s claim that he fired six times as an onrushing Redus charged him with an upraised fist after earlier wrestling with Carter for control of his police baton and resisting arrest. The coroner ruled that two of the five shots that would have been fatal did not strike Redus as Carter described. One was a shot that entered Redus from behind in his upper back and lodged near his heart, severing his aorta. The other entered his eye at a sharp downward angle, exiting his lower neck, leaving powder burns from the close proximity of Carter’s weapon. The evidence suggests Carter shot Redus once in the back and again as he stood over him.
The audio tape shows that eight seconds passed from the time of the first to sixth shot, further evidence refuting Carter’s version of events. Carter, 6 feet tall and 250 pounds at the time, said he feared for his life as Redus, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 130 pounds, allegedly charged him.
Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed did not bring the case before a grand jury. Her successor, District Attorney Nico LaHood, convened a grand jury that did not call Carter as a witness before declining to indict him. The Redus family could ask current District Attorney Joe Gonzales to reconvene a grand jury for a more thorough inquiry if the family’s civil suit against UIW ever is resolved.
Carter resigned his position at UIW one year after the shooting. Records subsequently show Carter applied unsuccessfully for a position in the San Antonio Police Department, and then for 25 different jobs with Bexar County without being hired.
Carter was a bad cop who should have never made it on to the UIW police force – or survived an incident two months before the fatal shooting when he bullied his way into the dorm room of a sleeping female student after midnight to interrogate her about an alleged parking garage fender bender. After the student’s family filed a complaint, her mother told me, a UIW police investigator said he knew her daughter was innocent but that Carter regarded her as guilty and the student should take measures to avoid him.
Six years later, we live in a different world. Carter would be fired today for the inappropriate entry into a female student’s room, which lasted until 2 a.m. That is no comfort to the Redus family, still living a miscarriage of justice.