UIW's Joeris Hall. Courtesy photo.
UIW's Joeris Hall. Courtesy photo.

University of the Incarnate World sophomore and varsity soccer player Julia Wilson was asleep in her Joeris Hall dorm room when loud voices and knocking at her door awakened her after midnight on Oct. 12, 2013. Wilson had fallen into a deep sleep around 8:30 p.m. after returning to campus on the team bus after an away game in Corpus Christi earlier that day.

“I was sound asleep and heard all this noise outside my door, and I was still not awake, really, when I head ‘Police!’ and ‘We’re going to key in’ as I got up to answer the door,” Wilson, then 19, said in an interview.

Wearing  her “athlete’s PJs” of shorts and t-shirt, Wilson was moving to open her door when a female resident aide used a master key to open it at the direction of UIW police officer Christopher Carter, whose incident report showed the time as 12:23 a.m. Carter did not invite Wilson to get dressed or advise her that she didn’t have to submit to his middle of the night dorm room questioning.

UIW police officer Christopher Carter
UIW police officer Christopher Carter

Instead Carter began aggressively prodding Wilson about her whereabouts and her vehicle’s whereabouts the previous day and night without telling her why he was there. Wilson said she stood at her dorm room door, struggling to awaken from a deep sleep and understand the nature of Carter’s “aggressive questioning” while the campus officer stood in the doorway, his line of questioning inferring she was in serious trouble.

As the questioning continued, Wilson learned Carter was investigating a reported hit and run on a parked vehicle in a nearby campus garage. A parked truck there had sustained $2,000 damage. After photographing the vehicle around 11:45 p.m. Carter had then examined vehicles parked in and near the garage and apparently discovered a dent on Wilson’s vehicle, parked outside at a different campus location. He ran the plate and asked the Joeris Hall RAs to direct him to the owner’s dorm room.

Other UIW police investigators would later note in a written report and in conversations with Wilson that the year-old dent on her truck was minor and obviously unrelated to the parking garage incident where the truck in question suffered about $2,000 in damage.

“It was obvious he was convinced it was me,” Wilson said last week in a telephone interview from her family’s home in Cypress, a Houston suburb. “He was rude and aggressive, I would even say intimidating, and I felt like he was going to prove it whether I did it or not.”

Carter left Wilson and the RA waiting in her dorm while he left to check Wilson’s ID.

“I was in tears by then and so upset I couldn’t really answer any more questions,” Wilson said. “The female RA said she was there to make sure he didn’t write (a report) to make me look guilty. She told me, ‘We know you didn’t do it.’ ”

Carter returned to say he had inspected her truck parked on a nearby hill and noted some minor damage and ” he asked me where I had been all day, and he asked me again if I had done it.” Julia told Carter her Ford F-250 truck, outfitted with a lift package, was too big to be parked in the garage and thus couldn’t have been the truck involved in the incident. Like always, she noted, her truck that night was parked outdoors on campus. Carter continued to press her. He finally left around 2 a.m., she said.

Julia promptly texted her mother, Dorothy Wilson, to tell her about the episode. The next morning Dorothy called the university to complain of Carter’s middle of the night appearance at her daughter’s dorm room and his aggressive conduct, despite the fact he lacked any evidence linking her daughter to the hit and run.

UIW Chief of Police Jacob Colunga
Former UIW Chief of Police Jacob Colunga

The incident was first reported by KENS5-TV last week. This story is based on the same UIW incident report and the first interviews with Julia Wilson and her mother, Dorothy Wilson.

“The investigator told me he (Carter) shouldn’t have done that and it wasn’t his job,” Julia said. “There is an investigator on campus and that’s his job.”

Julia said the campus investigator also issued an ominous warning, given subsequent events: “He also told me, ‘We know you didn’t do it. It’s obvious to anyone who looks at the two vehicles, but Carter still thinks you did it and still thinks you’re guilty, so stay away from him.’”

Two months later, on Dec. 6, again in the very early morning hours, Carter fatally shot UIW student Cameron Redus after following him to his off-campus apartment more than one mile from the school. Carter, on duty and returning to campus from a 1 a.m. lunch run to  a nearby off-campus Whataburger, was later defended by UIW officials and Alamo Heights police for exercising his duties as a sworn peace officer in pursuing Redus, who he said was driving erratically and apparently under the influence on Broadway.

Carter did not know a UIW student was behind the wheel, yet he followed him the length of the Alamo Heights commercial district without turning on his overhead lights until Redus turned into the off-Broadway apartment complex. An autopsy report confirmed that Redus was intoxicated and had a trace of marijuana in his system.

Carter attempted to arrest Redus after he parked his vehicle and headed toward his nearby apartment. Redus resisted being handcuffed,  Carter said, and a confrontation ensued in which the two men wrestled over control of Carter’s baton. Carter lost, then regained control of the baton, in his version of events, but still feared a charging Redus. After Redus ignored repeated warnings to stop resisting arrest and fighting him, Carter said, he shot the unarmed honors student five times, later saying he feared for his life although he was unhurt in the incident.

University of the Incarnate Word. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
The University of the Incarnate Word. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Carter said Redus was charging him with an upraised fist when he fired five times, but an autopsy conducted by the Bexar County Medical Examiner, released three months after the incident, revealed that Carter shot Redus once in the back and once in the left eye, with the bullet exiting 9 inches lower through the student’s neck, an angle that suggested Carter was standing above the victim. Both point-blank shots would have been fatal, the coroner ruled, and left telltale powder burn marks. Carter’s police vehicle was not equipped with a functioning, standard issue video camera, so there is no video record to confirm or contradict his version of events. An audio recording has not been released.

Six months later, District Attorney Susan Reed has yet to speak publicly about the case or indicate whether a grand jury is considering the evidence gathered in a joint investigation by the Alamo Heights police and the Texas Rangers. Even before the investigation began, however, Alamo Heights Police Chief Rick Pruitt defended Carter’s actions at a press conference and seemed to accept at face value his version of events. The Redus family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against UIW, and the university has responded with a defense of Carter, asserting that his pursuit and fatal shooting of Redus was justifiable.

Julia’s mother, Dorothy, was shaken when her daughter told her Redus was killed by the same campus police officer who had appeared at her dorm in the middle of the night. After watching the Redus parents publicly mourn the loss of their son, she decided to contact them.

“It would have been easier to say nothing, but this was the right thing to do,” Dorothy said. “I feel so badly for them, they seem such godly and gentle people. I’ve never heard them sound like they’re coming from a place of hate, more like they want to make sure that nobody else ever has to go through this again.”

Told that at least one of UIW’s senior administrators has spoken of Carter possibly returning to campus duties in an administrative position with the case still pending, Wilson said, “I would feel very uncomfortable with that situation, especially knowing that our daughter has spoken about the incident now. I worry about it.”

Daughter Julia, who will be a 20-year-old junior next semester, agreed: “I can tell you nobody would be comfortable with that on campus.” After a pause, she added, “I love Incarnate Word. I love San Antonio. Other than the incident with Carter, the police have been nice to me.”

Julia said she had a very different kind of experience with campus police involving her truck after she once parked illegally near the campus natatorium where she worked as a lifeguard.

“The police chief came into the natatorium where I was working and very nicely told me I ought to move my truck,” she said.

Why the UIW administration has continued to support Carter in the face of such troubling evidence remains a mystery to many on campus. Students have been vocal at campus meetings, in social media postings and in response to media coverage of the shooting and the university’s subsequent actions, and faculty members and some administrators have privately expressed misgivings. UIW President Lou Agnese was out of the country on a lengthy sabbatical, but is back at work now. Tuesday he participated in a public announcement of UIW’s plans to locate a new medical school at Brooks City Base. UIW officials and Carter are no longer commenting on the case.

Carter was an itinerant cop when he joined the UIW police force several years ago, having held nine different jobs in area law enforcement organizations in nearly as many years. The UTSA police department declined to interview Carter for a job after he applied there, according to one university source.

The Redus family and Wilson family agreed to discuss the events that brought them together with the Rivard Report, with both families expressing hope that there will be no further incidents between students and Carter. Had UIW officials acted in the wake of the incident with Julia Wilson, the Redus family believes, their own son’s tragic killing might have been averted.

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Robert Rivard

Robert Rivard is editor of the San Antonio Report.