Texas grand jury does not indict policeman for fatal shooting of unarmed Mexican man

Relatives and friends of Mexican Ruben García Villalpando taking part in a mass at his sister's house, in the town of Nuevo Porvenir, in Durango State on Feb 28 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Relatives and friends of Mexican Ruben García Villalpando taking part in a mass at his sister's house, in the town of Nuevo Porvenir, in Durango State on Feb 28 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas grand jury declined on Monday to charge a suburban Dallas police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Mexican national, in another case that has raised questions about racial bias by the United States police.

Mr Ruben Garcia Villalpando, a married father of four, was shot twice in the chest on the side of a highway in February by Grapevine police officer Robert Clark. The shooting occurred following a brief car chase.

Along with announcing the grand jury's decision, prosecutors on Monday also released a police dashcam video clip of the incident, which showed Mr Villalpando raising his hands above his head as he walked unsteadily toward Clark, who repeatedly asked him to stop.

Mr Villalpando was intoxicated at the time, the medical examiner's autopsy report said.

His death triggered rallies calling for the officer to face prosecution for a shooting that protesters said was racially motivated. Demonstrators likened Mr Villalpando's death to high-profile police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and in New York City. "We are very disappointed," said Mr Villalpando's brother-in-law Fernando Romero.

The video released by the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office also showed officer Clark shouting profanities at Mr Villalpando. At one point, Clark could be heard saying that Mr Villalpando was trying to reach for something although video footage showed that Mr Villalpando was standing still with his hands in the air.

The Villalpando family is seeking a federal investigation of the shooting and plan to file a wrongful death lawsuit against officer Clark and the Grapevine Police Department, said the family's attorney, Domingo Garcia.

A protest was planned for Monday night in Grapevine.

The grand jurors were given complete access to all the evidence in the case, including cell phone videos and the dashcam video from officer Clark's vehicle, prosecutor Larry Moore, who led the state's presentation, said.

Prosecutors made no recommendation to the grand jury, Mr Moore added. The grand jury heard from 13 witnesses, including officer Clark.

Grapevine Police said in a statement that officer Clark, who has been with the force for less than a year, "acted professionally and within law enforcement best practices".

Officer Clark was placed on leave following the shooting but has returned to work in a desk job.

The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs has condemned the shooting death of Mr Villalpando.

Grapevine Police Chief Eddie Salame said: "This is not the first time someone's judgment impaired by alcohol has a created a situation that led to their death."