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Family Wants Answers In Fatal Police Shooting Of 13-Year-Old Boy After Teen Sister's Murder
Lynda Espinoza told reporters that it took authorities five days to officially notify her that her son, Andre Hernandez Jr., was fatally shot by San Antonio Police after driving a stolen car into a patrol vehicle.
The loved ones of a 13-year-old shot dead by San Antonio police officers are demanding to know why it allegedly took days to be officially notified by authorities of his cause of death.
Relatives of Andre Hernandez Jr. only officially learned on Tuesday that his fatal Friday morning shooting was committed by a police officer, NBC News reported. The victim’s mother, Lynda Espinoza, told reporters she gleaned information from varying news outlets before concluding that police were responsible for the shooting death of her son.
“Police never notified me,” of the shooting the grieving mother told ABC San Antonio affiliate KSAT-TV. “It was the hospital that notified me that my son was in the hospital.”
Officers responded to reports of gunfire at 1:20 a.m. on Friday when they spotted a red vehicle that matched the description of a car witnesses saw at the scene, San Antonio Police Capt. Jesse Salame told the outlet. Hernandez Jr., police say, was behind the wheel with two teen passengers.
According to a statement by police to Oxygen.com, the victim’s passengers were a 15-year-old male and a 16-year-old female, who were uninjured in the incident.
“While attempting to stop the suspect vehicle, the vehicle accelerated towards a marked SAPD patrol vehicle, crashing into the officer’s patrol vehicle,” Public Information Officer Nicholas Soliz told Oxygen.com. “A second officer, fearing that the other officer would be struck by the suspect vehicle, discharged his firearm and struck the suspect driver.”
The victim, who could not be named by police because of his age, was taken into custody, treated on the scene and taken to a local hospital before succumbing to his injuries.
San Antonio authorities stated that the car driven by the suspect was stolen 12 days prior, as detailed in a police report sent to Oxygen.com. According to the May 22 complaint, two unidentified male suspects approached two women sitting in a red Toyota Corolla and robbed them at gunpoint.
“They took their purses and phones before driving off in the vehicle,” police stated. “Both male suspects were wearing masks and this is still an active robbery investigation.”
Espinoza admitted to KSAT-TV that her son was “no angel” but demanded that police release body-worn police camera footage of Friday’s shooting. According to NBC News, police agreed on Monday that they would allow Espinoza to view partial clips.
“I don’t know what I’m supposed to do when I see it,” Espinoza told NBC News. “But I want to see why they shot my son.”
Community activist Pharoah Clark explained to KSAT-TV reporters that the demand for answers had less to do with Hernandez Jr.’s alleged crimes and more with police transparency.
“They’re not trying to paint him as an angel,” said Clark. “What they’re saying is, ‘If this happened the way police are saying, then let us see the videos.’ And I think that’s any family who wants answers.”
Hernandez Jr.’s shooting is the second recent tragedy for Espinoza: Her 16-year-old daughter, Naveah Martinez, was found shot to death in a stolen car on May 10, according to NBC News.
Martinez was shot multiple times in the backseat, though it was unclear if she was the intended target, KSAT-TV reported in May. Two witnesses on the scene were taken into custody, though no arrests were made.
A suspect has not yet been identified in Martinez’s case, nor has a motive.
Problems continue to mount for the family: Espinoza's sister-in-law Stephanie Martinez told the San Antonio Current that child welfare officials removed Espinoza's remaining four children from her custody on Tuesday. Court records cited by the newspaper state that the order to remove the minors, ranging from ages 6 to 9, came before the police-involved shooting but authorities allegedly said could not reach Espinoza to effect the removal until after she went to the media about her son's death.
The family has accused the San Antonio police department of “trying to spin a narrative” and even claimed they were being followed by police. The department has denied any role in the decision to have the children removed.
As for Hernandez Jr.’s shooting death, San Antonio police told Oxygen.com that “the suspect’s mother has been contacted, and we are working with her to communicate the next steps of the investigative process.”
The officer behind the shooting has been with the San Antonio Police Department for three years, according to police. He was placed on administrative duty until further notice.