No charges for Ft. Worth PD officer who shot robbery suspect

A Fort Worth police officer won't face charges after he shot dead a robbery suspect in December.

The officer was no-billed by a Tarrant County Grand Jury on Monday.

Police said at the time the robbery suspect, Gilbert Reyna, 55, charged at the officer with a bat and screwdriver which forced the officer to shoot him once in the chest.

The incident occurred about midnight on Dec. 2, 2014 at The Gas Pipe Store in the 6000 block of Camp Bowie Boulevard.

Then-Fort Worth Police Chief Jeff Halstead said in December that body and dashcam video showed uniformed officers found Reyna as he exited the store and the suspect ran at the officer.

That video of the incident was released by FWPD on Monday afternoon.

Fort Worth police say if it were up to them, FOX 4 viewers and the public would have seen the video within days of it happening, but the legal process prevented that.

"We were requested by the district attorney's office as to not release the video, which we did not do at their request," said Cpl. Tracey Knight with the Fort Worth Police Department.

Police officials said they were glad the officers happened to be wearing the body cameras because it showed the officer used every option before deadly force.

Halstead, who now owns his own law enforcement consulting firm, says that with roughly 25 percent of departments across the country now using body cameras, it's time for cities to figure out how quickly the public will have access to that video.

"My advice to many chiefs now when I'm going across the country is, if you're going to change your policy, then release the controversial thing first," said Halstead.

He says in this case, the officer was shown in a heroic light, but what if the officer's actions are questioned, like the fatal shooting last month of Ruben Garcia-Villapando by a Grapevine police officer?

Cell phone video captured by a passing motorist just before the shooting appears to show Garcia-Villapando with his hands on his head and Grapevine Officer Robert Clark with his gun drawn.

Garcia-Villapando, who was not armed, was shot, police say, because he ignored commands to stop advancing on the officer.

The shooting reportedly happened outside the view of the dash camera, and, like the Fort Worth case, the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office asked police not to release it.  

So far, citizen cell phone video is the only video publicly seen of the key moments from the Garcia-Villapando shooting.

"If you think you're the only video out there, many citizens have that video as well, and as we saw in that incident, a citizen had that video and it got released" said Halstead.

Halstead says as more and more departments use body cameras, the policies that govern how they release it need to change.

"We need to start releasing those videos faster as well," said Halstead. "Not just the awesome videos. We gotta release the ones where we have some significant issues in community policing."

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