A former Hays County Sheriff’s Office corrections officer has been indicted and charged with shooting an inmate multiple times during an altercation in a Texas hospital.
Originally, sources reported after the incident, the officer was placed on administrative leave for 10 days before being allowed to come back to work. However, after an investigation by Texas top cops, the man has since been terminated.
Hays County Criminal District Attorney Kelly Higgins announced the news that Isaiah Garcia, 27, has been charged with deadly conduct, a third-degree felony offense in the fatal shooting of Joshua Leon Wright, 36, at Ascension Seton Hays Hospital in Kyle on Dec. 12, 2022, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
In a statement released on Friday, April 7, authorities stated, “While the Hays County Sheriff’s Office strongly supports our deputies and corrections officers and the duties, many of which put their safety at risk, that they must carry out on a daily basis, we also respect and honor the criminal justice process, including yesterday’s decision by the Grand Jury to move forward with charges in this case.”
The Texas Rangers led the investigation into the shooting, reviewing evidence including footage from Garcia’s bodycam. They presented their findings to the grand jury, who decided to indict.
“A grand jury is composed of 12 citizens from Hays County and serves as an independent voice of the community,” Higgins said. “After hearing the evidence, the grand jury determined that the offense of deadly conduct was the most appropriate charge.”
The Wright family’s attorneys released a statement after the indictment was released, according to KXAN.
“The family of Joshua Wright is relieved by news of this indictment, as it gets us one step closer to ensuring that former officer Garcia will be held accountable for his deadly actions,” the statement read. “It is crucial that when officers act violently and against protocol, that they and the departments that train them are held responsible for their actions to ensure that these killings stop happening. We will continue to support the Wright family through the legal process and lift them up in prayer as we fight for justice for Joshua.”
Wright was a pretrial inmate at the Hays County Jail, which had him transported to the hospital to receive treatment. Garcia was the on-duty guard watching him at the time of the shooting.
At a press conference in January 2023, lawyers representing Wright’s family, civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Chevo Pastrano, say they received testimony from witnesses that state Wright’s wrists and ankles were shackled while he was at the hospital.
Bystanders said during the hospital visit, Wright requested to use the restroom.
He was being escorted to the restroom by Garcia and at some point, had his hands released from the handcuffs.
The inmate and the officer then got into an altercation, the attorneys assert, calling the exchange “a short scuffle and a push,” which resulted in Wright attempting to escape from the hospital’s emergency room with his ankles still in cuffs.
Garcia is then said to have shot Wright at least six times in his back, according to an independent autopsy, to stop him from exiting the facility. The lawyers say it was excessive and violated the man’s civil rights.
The autopsy showed one of the bullets went through his spinal cord and possibly paralyzed him. He died despite the medical staff attempting life-saving procedures to preserve his life.
Early statements from authorities alleged that Wright struck Garcia first before running through the emergency room. However, they refrained from giving out details regarding the incident and did not state if Wright was armed with a weapon.
The executive director for the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), Charley Wilkison, made an uproar when posted on social media the inmate was armed with sharp medical instruments during the incident.
“It’s my understanding that he attacked the deputy, hit him in the throat and physically attacked him, and then made his way toward these potential weapons that could have been used against patients and nurses and the medical staff there,” said Wilkison following the incident.
Now, Wilkison is saying the organization is unsure if Wright was armed and the original tweet was deleted.
CLEAT will represent Garcia in this case.
Crump said the reason the union has walked back their statement is because “they lied” about what happened.
“He’s got shackles. His pants are falling down. He’s 300 pounds, moving away and this police officer says, ‘The only thing I can do is shoot him multiple times in the back,’” Crump said during the press conference.
Law enforcement is keeping details about this case close to the vest, including not releasing to the public any footage of Wright’s death and the moments leading up to it.
However, many have asked for the video to be released, including Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra. The judge issued a statement a day after the shooting demanding transparency and for the bodycam video to be released.
After the announcement of Garcia’s indictment and arrest, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office offered its condolences to the Wright family.
“It is our sincere hope that all of the citizens of Hays County can come together to foster peace in our community and our country,” the statement said.
Should Garcia, who worked on the force since 2018, be convicted of these crimes, he faces up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Garcia posted bail at $20,000 and has been released from custody as he awaits trial.