By Gary Kent
BEEVILLE, Texas — The Beeville Police Department released videos of the May 31 shooting incident in the parking lot in front of the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
The Bee-Picayune obtained the videos by filing an open records request with the Beeville Police Department last week.
Two videos were made available, one of which was taken by a camera on the dashboard of Sgt. Chris Vasquez’s patrol car and one which was taken from a camera on the roof of the Wal-Mart building.
Vasquez was looking for a car that matched the description of a vehicle that a man had fled in minutes earlier from the Stripes convenience store on North St. Mary’s Street.
The store clerk said the man walked out of the business at about 3:30 a.m. with some beer without offering to pay for it.
The officer found the vehicle and turned on his overhead emergency lights and the driver, 29-year-old Anthony Albert Ponce, pulled into a parking space in front of the grocery store side of the Wal-Mart building.
Ponce stepped out of the vehicle and Vasquez asked him to stay in the car. In the video, Ponce clearly had a handgun in his right hand and Vasquez immediately started to retreat, demanding that Ponce put down the gun.
But Ponce did not drop the gun and he started walking toward Vasquez. In the Wal-Mart security video, Vasquez is seen backtracking at least 30-40 feet, trying to get away from Ponce as he continues walking toward him with the gun in his hand.
Then Vasquez fires three times, halting a second or two between each shot.
The officer immediately calls police headquarters, reports “shots fired” and calls for EMS (emergency medical services).
Witnesses and investigators reported later that Vasquez began CPR on the victim and tried to keep him alive until EMS personnel could get to the scene.
Members of the Bee County Grand Jury were shown the videos the Thursday immediately after the shooting and they quickly returned a no-bill, refusing to charge the officer.
At least one of the officers investigating the incident called the shooting “suicide by cop.”
Ponce had been indicted by the same grand jury a month earlier on family violence charges that had been enhanced to a punishment range of from 25-99 years or life in prison because he had a previous felony conviction.
Beeville residents who knew Ponce said he had sworn he would not go to prison.