Victoria police kill man wielding machete (w/Video)
April 26, 2015 at 11:51 p.m.
Updated April 27, 2015 at 7:43 a.m.
At least two Victoria police officers were placed on administrative leave Sunday after fatally shooting a 25-year-old man outside of his home.
The officers will remain on paid leave during the investigation, which is being led by the Texas Rangers, per departmental policies, chief J.J. Craig said Sunday at a news conference.
Craig declined to name the officers involved in the shooting or how many fired a weapon at the scene.
Officers responded to a disturbance call about 11 p.m. Saturday in the 800 block of Simpson Road behind Academy Sports and Outdoors.
A man, who was later identified as Brandon Lawrence, was observed by officers just inside his residence holding a 23-inch machete.
The officers ordered Lawrence to drop his weapon and come outside, Craig said. Lawrence came outside but continued to hold the blade.
Lawrence held "the weapon in a very aggressive manner, pointing it at officers," Craig continued.
A preliminary investigation revealed officers asked Lawrence more than 30 times to drop the weapon, Craig said.
Instead, Lawrence advanced toward officers to the point that one of the officers involved had nowhere to retreat to, the chief said.
"The officers were forced to discharge their weapons in order to stop the threat," he said.
However, witnesses on the scene told a somewhat different story. The Advocate has asked to view any body camera footage from the scene and has requested the tape of the initial 911 call.
Boyce Bernal, 14, who lives in the complex and witnessed part of the shooting, said he didn't see Lawrence advancing toward officers.
Yasmine Lawrence, the wife of Brandon Lawrence, said the officers didn't immediately identify themselves either and said her husband was confused about who they were.
Earlier Saturday, Lawrence had gotten into an argument with his neighbor and told his wife the neighbor said he was going to get his friend and come back and shoot him.
Lawrence, an Army veteran, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and paranoia, his wife said.
When asked if policies and procedures change when an officer is dealing with someone with PTSD, Craig said officers are trained on how to handle those situations, but it would be an assumption to say whether they knew Lawrence suffered from it.
Yasmine Lawrence said she finds it difficult to believe the officers didn't know her husband was suffering from confusion.
She said her husband continually said the officers were his neighbor, and one officer tried to reason with her husband by telling him his first name.
"He really wasn't given a chance," she said. "He wasn't charging. He was not moving. He was just standing."
Lawrence, who watched the news conference on the Advocate's website, said she was disappointed and angry.
Mostly, she said, she was disappointed with the chief bringing up her husband had a criminal past and not specifying it was for a misdemeanor.
Lawrence said she strongly urges the chief to release the video footage.
"I felt like he was being very ignorant," she said. "It just felt like they were trying to save their own asses."
Craig said preliminary investigation points to the officers being justified in their use of force, but added it's early in the investigation and facts are still being collected.
Craig added the officers involved did not have a previous use of force investigation or complaint on file.
When asked after the news conference if another use of force, such as the taser, could have been used, he said in a text message, "due to circumstances at hand and officer training, I would not expect the taser to be an appropriate force option given the fact that the taser is a less lethal force option, and the machete would be considered a lethal weapon capable of causing death or serious injury."