Mexican Government Wants Investigation of Unarmed Man Shot to Death

The Mexican government on Wednesday demanded an investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed undocumented immigrant last week by a Grapevine, Texas, police officer, calling the killing a "disproportionate use of lethal force."

Rubén García Villalpando, a native of Mexico’s Durango state, died early Saturday after Officer Robert Clark shot him twice in the chest.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs deeply condemns the death of 31-year-old Mexican national Rubén García Villalpando," the Mexican government stated in an official letter to the police departments of Grapevine, Euless and the Tarrant County District Attorney's office.

The statement called the shooting a "disproportionate use of lethal force that results in the unnecessary loss of life and erodes the trust that should exist between the authorities and the communities in which they operate."

The shooting happened at about 7 p.m. on Friday night, Feb. 20, immediately following a high-speed chase on Texas State Highway 121 that began in Grapevine, but ended in Euless.

Police said Clark, a member of the Grapevine Police Department since May 2014, responded to an alarm at a building in the 3500 block of William D. Tate Avenue.

After investigating the alarm, and communicating over the police radio that he believed it to be a false alarm, Clark drove through the parking lot and noticed García Villalpando's car stopped in the entrance on the lot's west side, police said.

Clark activated his red and blue emergency lights, according to Grapevine police, but García Villalpando drove out of the parking lot and entered the southbound service road of Highway 121.

Clark then activated his siren and communicated by radio he was in pursuit, police said, as García Villalpando's car entered Highway 121 at a high rate of speed.

Dash camera video shows García Villalpando "weaving through and around the heavy traffic and driving on the shoulder of the highway attempting to evade Officer Clark," according to the official timeline of events released by the Grapevine Police Department.

Once García Villalpando eventually stopped on the shoulder of the Cheek Sparger Road exit, Clark "gives verbal commands to Mr. Villalpando to keep his hands out of his car," police noted.

García Villalpando approached Clark and ignored repeated instructions to stop, according to police. The dash-cam video shows Villalpando raise his hands and put them on his head, while continuing to walk towards the officer, police said. 

Villalpando was shot twice and was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he later died.

Clark has been placed on routine administrative leave. Police are investigating the shooting.

Police has shown the dash camera video to several members of García Villalpando's family and their attorneys.

"Much, much worse than Ferguson," said Attorney Domingo Garcia, referring to the officer-involved shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri last summer. "This is an absolute cold-blooded murder by a man wearing a badge and a uniform."

Both Attorney Garcia, who has viewed the video, along with activist Carlos Quintanilla acknowledged that Garcia Villalpando was wrong to run from the officer, and to approach the officer despite his commands to stop.

"But at the same time, you do not shoot an unarmed man with his hands on his head," Garcia told NBCDFW.

"He didn't lunge at the officer. He wasn't aggressive at the officer, he had no arms toward the officer, he had no weapons and yet the officer shot him twice," Quintanilla said.

Family members have stated they want to know why Clark did not approach Garcia Villalpando and cuff him if he was a suspect in a crime, or why the officer did not use a TASER instead of a pistol.

In a statement to NBC DFW, a Grapevine police spokesperson said that their officers are not issued TASERs.

Garcia Villalpando leaves behind a wife, Martha, and four young children.

"As his wife, I'm suffering," Martha Garcia said, in Spanish, outside of her husband's funeral Wednesday. "But my kids aren't going to have their father. I want justice for my children," Garcia said, wiping away tears.

Wednesday night, Euless police - the department handling the investigation of the shooting - acknowledged receipt of the letter from the Mexican consulate.

"We have received a letter from the consulate. We have a meeting scheduled with them in the morning," Lt. Eric Starnes said. "As for the video, we are still taking statements from witnesses and have more scheduled through this weekend. Release of the video has a strong potential to affect witness testimony and for that reason I do not have an answer as to when it will be released."

The fatal police shooting comes 10 days after police in Pasco, Washington, fatally shot another Mexican immigrant, Antonio Zambrano Montes, sparking street protests.

The following is taken directly from the Grapevine police timeline of the shooting: 

Mr. Villalpando gets out of the car with his hands up and stands outside his car, while Officer Clark commands him to stop. Officer Clark gives him further commands to not move.

Mr. Villalpando, contrary to clear instructions, walks toward Officer Clark while Clark is repeatedly telling him to stop. The video shows Mr. Villalpando raising his hands and/or placing them on his head, while continuing to walk towards Officer Clark. This continues as Mr. Villalpando walks to the front bumper of Officer Clark's patrol vehicle, off camera view.

Officer Clark continues to tell Mr. Villalpando to get to the back of the car. Two shots are then heard. Officer Clark notifies dispatch that "shots were fired" and he requests paramedics.

Garcia Villalpando was flown to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where he later died.

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