Man accused of shooting Texas officers aquitted
Jurors said a "botched" operation and contradicting testimony led to their decision to acquit the man
By Krista M Torralva
Corpus Christi Caller-Times
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — 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.
Jurors told the lawyers they asked the same question in their deliberations.
“That was a great line you gave,” a male juror said. “We gave a lot of credence to that.”
Jurors also asked prosecutors why they dismissed the three attempted capital murder charges and questioned whether lead prosecutor Joe Mike Pena thought he had a weak case.
Pena, who was not the prosecutor who indicted Rosas last year, said he thought the lesser charges of aggravated assault of a public servant would be easier to prove.
“If I would have indicted him I probably would have done straight simple aggravated assault of a public servant to make my jury charge smaller, shorter and easier and less confusing,” Pena said.
Rosas said afterward he didn’t hold resentment against police or prosecutors.
“They were doing their job. They just didn’t get that right,” Rosas said.