Attorney defends work history of N. TX officer involved in deadly shooting

The attorney for a Grapevine police officer under investigation for a deadly shooting disputes records from his previous job showing questionable conduct.

The shooting of an unarmed illegal immigrant after a high-speed chase has sparked protest from Hispanic and civil rights activists, but Grapevine police have said that the officer acted within the law.

The Feb. 20 shooting was captured by a passing motorist on cell phone before shots were fired. The end of the high-speed police chase started in Grapevine and ended in Euless.

The man shot, Ruben Garcia-Villalpando, appears to have his hands on his head and Officer Robert Clark appears to have his gun drawn.

Grapevine police say Garcia-Villalpando refused to heed commands to stop advancing on the officer. Two shots were fired outside the view of Clark's dash camera.

The growing controversy has focused attention on Clark. His attorney his it's one-sided attention that fails to put in context Garcia-Villalpando's actions.

"[He] was driving through rush hour traffic 6:30 p.m. on a Friday night, evading arrest or detention from a police officer in a marked squad car, and that's a felony in this state," said Lance Wyatt, Clark's attorney.

Wyatt also disputes personnel records released by Clark's previous employer that portray his brief tenure with D/FW Airport police as troubled.

A Grapevine police spokesman said its examination of DFW DPS records also found "discrepancies" in Clark's personnel records.

One document from a Grapevine investigator has a handwritten note starred, "Why did he fail…There's something missing."

The typed report indicates the investigator talked with three officers at DFW DPS who wanted to be anonymous "because they feared retaliation."

They described Clark as "honest, "trustworthy" and "a great asset," hinting at least that Clark's problems really stemmed because he was being "groomed to be a member of the department's SWAT team."

"There was some type of personality issue that had to do with him possibly being slotted for a position and they didn't take kindly to that," said Wyatt.

"The SWAT position?" said FOX 4's Richard Ray.

"Yes, sir," said Wyatt.

Garcia-Villalpando was an illegal immigrant with a pending DWI case from December in Lewisville.

His family and activists have repeatedly protested and asked for the dash camera video to be made public, but the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office told police not to release it, saying it could jeopardize the investigation.

The Euless Police Department is investigating the shooting.

Officer Clark remains on administrative leave and his lawyer says he is holding up well, under the circumstances.

"The public should recognize that this is an individual that is a public servant at heart, and that's what he was doing that night," said Wyatt. "He was fulfilling his public duties and responsibilities and he believed very clearly that his life was in danger or he wouldn't have done what he needed to do."

Grapevine police released a statement Tuesday night stating the firm belief that Clark acted professionally and within the law and asserting that the history of his previous employment should not be part of the public discussion -- that in fact, it could be prejudicial.

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