From Caller Times
A Nueces County jury that acquitted a man who shot Corpus Christi police officers executing a raid on his home said a “botched” operation and contradicting testimony led to their decision.
The jurors’ verdict frees Ray Rosas, who was jailed since the Feb. 19, 2015, shooting at his home in the 3000 block of Churchill Drive near Del Mar College.
Rosas’ elderly and handicapped mother cried as defense lawyer Gabi Canales told her in Spanish after the verdict was read that her son would be going home.
Jurors explained their reasoning to prosecutors and defense lawyers afterward.
“What did it for a lot of jurors, I think, is that the officers didn’t seem credible. Their stories didn’t match … and it kind of made us feel like if they’re lying about this what else are they lying about?” a female juror said.
Jurors referred to the officers’ differing testimonies about what Rosas said and how he acted when police restrained him. Some officers described him as aggressive and directing profanity toward the police. Other officers said he was cooperative and told them he didn’t know they were law enforcement.
Police were executing a drug related warrant on Rosas’ nephew who lived in the family home at the time. They used a flash bang, a tool meant to distract officers’ target, through Rosas’ bedroom window before breaking into the house.
Rosas shot at officers, striking three. Officers Steven Ruebelmann, Steven Brown and Andrew Jordan were hospitalized and survived. Rosas was indicted on three counts of attempted capital murder and four counts of the lesser charge of aggravated assault on a public servant.
Prosecutors dropped the attempted capital murder charges Monday after resting their case on Friday and another aggravated assault case naming another officer.
Rosas’ defense lawyers – Canales, Lisa Greenberg and Terry Shamsie – spent the four-day trial arguing Rosas was hit by the device. Rosas, who did not take the stand, has said his hearing and vision were impacted by the flash bang and he didn’t know the intruders were police.
“I believe the distraction device distracted him from hearing the officers,” a male juror said.
Jurors also challenged some of the tactics used or missing during the raid. They asked why there wasn’t video from a body camera or the SWAT vehicle. They questioned why police didn’t survey the house hours before going in and were surprised officers didn’t make sure the person the warrant named was in the house before the raid.
They also said they were bothered one of the charges Rosas was indicted on was for a gunshot that tore through Officer Ross Murray’s pant leg. Officers testified the bullet came from Ruebelmann’s gun. Greenberg asked why, then, Ruebelmann wasn’t facing the same charge as Rosas.
Opinion: No-Knock Warrants have often come under scrutiny and presented a legal dilemma. On one hand, the power to execute a no-knock warrant gives the police an element of surprise they would be missing if they had to first knock on the door and ask to come in.
On the other hand, the no-knock warrant puts the cops in the position of appearing to be armed intruders in a person’s home.
In this case, the warrant being executed was for Rosas’ nephew. The police hadn’t even confirmed that the person was in the house before they broke in to the house to execute the warrant.
In a split second, being woken from your sleep, even if the police are identifying themselves, how can one reliably expect that a person could process that these were police, and not armed home invaders, bursting into their home? Add on to that the flash grenades and you’ve got the making of a chaotic situation, which is the ultimate reason this man was found not guilty, even though he shot three cops.
The lesson learned here is this, if you’re going to execute no-knock warrants, don’t be surprised if the person’s home you enter doesn’t shoot at you. There is a price to be paid for that surprise advantage, and the price could be paid by both sides of the confrontation.