RICHARDSON, Texas - A North Texas man will go on trial next week for opening fire on a Richardson police officer at Lamborghini Dallas Dealership.
But the suspect’s attorney says the real story is the training and restraint the Richardson officer used to not to shoot the armed man who would not obey commands and shot at him.
There are twelve verbal commands that are ignored before the suspect shoots at the officer.
Some may see the body cam video and say the officer should have fired his weapon sooner. But attorney Heath Harris, who is representing the man who shot at the Richardson officer, says the video shows an officer with great training going above and beyond not to take a life.
The video begins with the Richardson police officer arriving at the Lamborghini dealership on March 21, 2017. The video shows a window has been shot out and the alarm going off. Inside is Justin Xavier Strait, the man who would be arrested some five hours later. The officer yelled his first command to show his hands.
Strait's attorney, Heath Harris, says his client has schizophrenia and had been in mental health care in a Fort Worth hospital. His father had gotten a second emergency protective order.
“They had the warrant, and police were prepared to arrest him that morning and take him back to the hospital,” Harris explained. “But unfortunately, he snuck out of the back window."
Strait stole a vehicle that took him to Dallas and found a gun before he made an unexplained, after-hours journey to the luxury car dealership.
“Keep your hands where I can see them,” the responding officer yelled. “Hands where I can see them right now!”
Strait was non-responsive.
“He’s almost like in a zombie state, and he's not complying with the officer. And the officer is basically yelling at this kid to show me your hands,” Harris said. “Because Mr. Strait is not responding to him and walking towards him in a zombie-like state, I believe that this officer knows. His training kicks in, and he knows that there’s something not right with this kid.”
The officer then called his partner on the radio and told him that Strait had a gun and wouldn’t show his hands.
“See, he'd be justified in shooting him at that point,” Harris said. “But he doesn’t.”
The video shows the officer repeatedly telling Strait to show his hands, yelling louder and louder every time. Still, Strait only continued walking towards the officer.
“But even with that fear, his training kicks in,” Harris said. “And he knows that there is something not quite right with this kid.”
The officer moved left and out of Strait’s sight just before he is shot at. The officer returned gunfire. Several shots were exchanged, but neither were struck.
Strait managed to escape the dealership and get in the stolen vehicle and drive away.
“He doesn’t remember shooting back at the officer,” Harris said. “He thought he only shot one time.”
Two standoffs and five hours later, police take Strait in to custody with a taser and not bullets.
Harris says Strait’s family has a message of gratitude for the officer.
“Thank you. Thank you, absolutely,” he said. “Thank you for saving this kid’s life.”
Strait goes on trial next week on charges of aggravated assault on a public servant.
Harris says they will enter an insanity plea based on medical records. But he reiterated the family is grateful to the officer that their son alive to get the help he needs.