Farmers Branch Mayor Flees Meeting Due to Protesters

Family and friends of a teen fatally shot by an off-duty officer protest at a city hall meeting

Farmers Branch Mayor Bob Phelps was forced to leave a city council meeting Tuesday among surrounded by police officers after angry protesters followed him to a police vehicle.

The protesters are seeking justice for a teen who was fatally shot by an off-duty Farmers Branch police officer outside of Farmers Branch city limits in Addison earlier this year.

At the city hall meeting, family and friends of Jose Raul Cruz called for the city to not use public funds to help defend Officer Ken Johnson, who was charged by the Addison Police Department with murder and aggravated assault in the shootings.

Johnson has since resigned from the department.

The protesters also sought the release of an internal police investigation saying they believe it would show "negligent hiring practices," and called for an apology from the city for Cruz's death as well as compensation for funeral expenses.

Wednesday, Carlos Quintanilla, a Cruz family spokesman and activist called Mayor Bob Phelps actions arrogant and a disgust to the Latino community.

"The way he treated us yesterday, all he had to do was say, you know what, yes, we will meeting with the family, ma'am we feel your pain, we feel your hurt, I would love to meet with you. But he didn't do that," Quintanilla said. "He acted belligerent, arrogant, offensive and disgusting, and that for us, I think, that was kind of like the thing that created this whole conflict – in the chasing of the mayor, blocking his car, and all of that – that's who created it: his arrogant, offensive behavior toward the family of Jose Cruz and to our community."

Mayor Phelps said his actions were not arrogant, and he followed protocol in ending the meeting.

The protesters did not show up in time for the public comment portion of the meeting and instead interrupted just before the mayor was set to adjourn, according Phelps.

The protesters also threatened to go to the mayor's home if he did not meet with the Cruz family.

"I was not shocked," Phelps said Wednesday. "I was upset. That didn't sit well with me. They don't have any business going to my house. My wife didn't do anything. I didn't do anything."

Police guarded Phelps' home Tuesday night and throughout the day Wednesday.

"The city of Farmers Branch, we respect everybody, we try to serve everybody, and help everybody," Phelps said.

Phelps added that he will meet with Cruz's family, but said he did not receive a direct request to meet prior to the meeting.

A city spokesperson told NBC 5 the city manager, who was out of town, received a phone call Monday but, to their knowledge, that's the only request to meet with city leadership other than the police chief they received.

Quintanilla said the city should have reached out to the Cruz family.

"For them not to reach out to the family and say, you know what, we feel your pain, we feel your hurt. That to us is a slap in the face of the Enriquez, Cruz family," Quintanilla said. "It's a slap in the face to our community. They should have at least been more compassionate."

Phelps told NBC 5 Wednesday he does sympathize with Cruz's family after what happened.

"We're sad that it happened, like I said, it's a tragic incident that affects a lot of people," Phelps said. "But again we're a city of rules and law and we've got to go with them."

Phelps said the city cannot just release the internal affairs investigation, but noted it has been completed and handed to the district attorney's office.

Phelps added that the city is not paying for Johnson's criminal defense, however, they are defending a civil lawsuit filed against the city by Cruz's mother.

On March 13, Johnson said he saw Cruz and another teen burglarizing his vehicle at his apartment complex, where he served as a courtesy officer.

Johnson chased them in his personal vehicle, an altercation ensued and shots were fired from Johnson's duty pistol. Cruz was killed.

NBC 5's Todd L. Davis contributed to this report.

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