Galveston, TX – The La Marque police officer who fatally shot an armed felon as he pointed a gun at him while running away late last year will not face criminal charges, a Galveston County grand jury has determined.
The grand jury declined to indict La Marque Police Department (LMPD) Officer Jose Santos on Tuesday in connection with the Dec. 9, 2020 death of 22-year-old Joshua Feast, KSAT reported.
At the time of the officer-involved shooting, Feast was a person of interest in multiple shootings throughout the area and had felony warrants out for his arrest for offenses of felony evading arrest and felon in possession of a firearm, according to KHOU.
Investigators tracked Feast down at a residence on Pirtle Street on Dec. 9, 2020, and called Officer Santos to the scene to identify him before they moved in to make an arrest.
Officer Santos arrived in the area shortly after 11 p.m. and spotted the suspect leaning into the passenger side of a vehicle, KPRC reported.
The officer got out of his patrol unit and called out to Feast, then realized the convicted felon was holding a gun, according to police.
Enhanced, slow-motion bodycam footage of the encounter was released on Tuesday “so that everyone can see what we saw during our investigation,” Galveston County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) Lieutenant Mel Villarreal told KSAT.
Galveston County District Attorney Jack Roady noted that Feast pulled the gun out of his waistband when Officer Santos confronted him, then aimed it at the officer as he tried to flee.
“As he’s running, he’s pointing it back at Officer Santos,” Roady said, according to KSAT.
Officer Santos fired a single round, striking Feast in the back.
The suspect dropped the gun just before he collapsed outside a nearby house, KSAT reported.
Investigators located a loaded 9mm Taurus pistol near the location where Feast collapsed, according to Houston Public Media.
A second gun – a loaded .45-caliber Smith & Wesson Springfield – fell out of the suspect’s clothing after he was inside an ambulance, police said.
Feast succumbed to his wounds, kicking off protests and marches through the streets, Houston Public Media reported.
Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, the lawyer representing Feast’s family, claimed Officer Santos shot the suspect for no reason.
“A defenseless man was shot in the back when he had not disobeyed a single lawful command and posed no threat to the officer,” Crump told KHOU.
He further accused the GCSO of lying “in order to taint and twist the narrative in the press, offer a justification for Santos’ actions and untruthfully attack the character of the deceased, Joshua Feast.”
Crump released a statement Wednesday, saying the grand jury’s decision was “devastating” for Feast’s family and for the community, Houston Public Media reported.
He also claimed Officer Santos has a “history of brutality” stemming back to 2013, when a suspect sued him over allegations of excessive force.
Officer Santos worked for the Galveston Police Department at the time.
The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed, but Crump argued the LMPD never should have hired the vindicated officer.
“It is a disturbing failure of the La Marque Police Department that Santos was allowed to join their ranks,” Crump said in the statement, according to Houston Public Media.
Roady said he agrees with the grand jury’s findings and said the officer-involved shooting of Feast was justified, KSAT reported.
“I’m confident the investigation was exhaustive, unbiased and fundamentally fair,” the prosecutor said during a news conference Tuesday. “I’m equally confident that the result of this investigation and the grand jury’s decision is just.”