Cameron Redus stands with family friend Mark Hall the day before Cameron sold his beloved jeep. Courtesy photo.
Cameron Redus stands with family friend Mark Hall the day before Cameron sold his beloved jeep. Courtesy photo.

After listening to the audio, 911 tapes, reading transcripts and the autopsy report, and speaking with friends and Cameron Redus’ family, I feel we need to talk about Cameron’s character.

The real Cameron is very different from the inebriated Cameron that former UIW police officer Christopher Carter describes in his account and that we heard on the recording. The general public never got to meet the real Cameron. Let us introduce you.

My husband was Cam’s soccer coach and mentor in high school. After high school, he continued to often meet him and his friends. They would gather at Starbucks to talk about life and how life looks within genuine, authentic Christianity. Cam would come over and give our kids candy because he felt badly that we wouldn’t let them have much. He would be in our living room late into the night, talking with my husband while he used our computer to make movie projects. He talked about his special mornings drinking coffee with his dad and his travels with his brothers. In our interactions with him, he was always very sweet, honest, mild-mannered, loved life, and cared about people. He called the Saturday before he died to give advice about a good camera we should buy.

(Read More: Recording of Cameron Redus’ Fatal Shooting Released)

He made a mistake – we are all devastated about this mistake – and I have no doubt that had Cameron lived through this incident, he would be the first to admit it. We wish the dash cam had been working, we wish his friends would not have let him drive home or not have been drinking to that extent in the first place. We wish Carter had actually known where he was so someone else could get to him. We wish he had pepper spray and not been allowed to carry a gun. A lot of things went wrong that night. In my opinion, it didn’t sound like Carter was full of rage and out to get Cam. Until he shot 6 times. It sounded like he was incredibly inept, as we can also infer from his work history.

There were no “scuffling” noises as he was saying “stop,” so who knows what Cameron was doing? No mention of a baton being taken. Just a sleepy-voiced Cameron which then got louder as you could hear the fear mount with his confusion about what was going on, and Cameron asking Carter about why he was choking him. The autopsy report shows contusions around his neck. If Cameron was coming at him, why was there a shot to his back and his eye at a downward angle? How is Carter asking Cameron what street they were on, while he felt his life was being threatened? But we are not experts – these are just our questions. But I feel they are justified questions. Questions that should be answered.

(Read More: Autopsy Report Raises Troubling Questions in Fatal Shooting of UIW Student)

As my kids ask about this situation and we have to explain that there appear to be no consequences for this unskilled man in the law enforcement community, we also have to try and balance that with, “If you ever need help, call or look for a police officer.” I doubt we will ever be able to get that balance after this. We all make mistakes, but Cameron paid the ultimate price for his drinking mistake and it appears that Carter will pay nothing in this earthly life.

Vengeance is ultimately the Lord’s and we pray for our friends, the Redus’, and for all Cameron’s friends – that we may be strong and outspoken, yes, but also abide in a manner that a sober Cameron would. The Redus family is an excellent example of this and we ache for them as they continue to seek some sort of justice for their son and our friend.

— Rachel Ortego

Editor’s Note: The following is a letter that was written by Rachel’s husband, Wade, to friends and family shortly after Cameron was killed in December 2013. 

Wade’s Letter

I have avoided posting anything about Cam, hoping it would not be true if I didn’t say anything, but after speaking with some of his friends, I knew I would have to say something. He and I had lots of late night conversations, scanning obscure documentaries, reviewing endless slide shows, asking deep questions; hard questions about life, love, dreams, fears, failures, and success. I cherish the day I will be able to continue those conversations with him. Until then I’d just like to say:

We all loved Cam, probably because he loved all of us and he was more than willing to show it. He was fun to be with: his love of life, his sense of adventure, his compassion, his sense of responsibility, his dedication to his friends (and who wasn’t this guy’s friend?), his love for his family, his “thriftyness,” and his willingness to ask hard questions (questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no). These are things I remember about him. He was infectious in every way. Spend two hours with him and he would have you ready to jump on a flight to Argentina.

He wasn’t perfect: all that kinky hair, that puffy orange coat he got for really cheap, and he slept in a hammock whenever he could. He ate Tabasco on pancakes! Who does that? But he was ours and we were his. He loved to know people and he wanted to know everyone; it was his way.

Letting him go will be hard, but nothing compared to what his parents and siblings have to do. But if we hang on to him, we won’t be able to move on, and the last thing he would want would be for us to not push forward; forward to new places, new experiences, new relationships. That is what he would want for us. He would want us to continue exploring, sharing the adventures of this life, not sitting and waiting for what used to be.

So grieve, but grieve with hope. Remember him for who he was to you. Remember all the great things he did for you and for others, remember his infectious love for life, that Cheshire Cat grin, and his love for others. Rejoice in those memories. Savor them. Share them with one another. Grieve with his loved ones and friends. Then go and live, live in a way that you would want to share with him, and then share it with others.

Cam loved Jesus and he knew that the Christian life was not and would not be easy. But he tried to live it out in spite of the difficulties. He chose the narrow road, one definitely taken far too seldom. He attempted to live at ground level with everyone he met and he tried to leave them with hope and truth. May you follow that road as well.

1 Thessalonians 4:13 -18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Much love,

— Wade Ortego

*Featured/top image: Cameron Redus stands with family friend Mark Hall the day before Cameron sold his beloved jeep. Courtesy photo.

Related Stories:

Recording of Cameron Redus’ Fatal Shooting Released

Grand Jury Clears UIW Cop in Student Slaying

An Open Letter to District Attorney Nico LaHood

Redus Family: Recording of Shooting ‘Discredits’ UIW’s Story

Rachel taught the two youngest Redus boys at Baytown Christian Academy. Wade was the Dean of Students there when Cameron was a senior. We are friends of the Redus’ and now live in Wichita, KS.