Family Wants Justice In Police Killing of 31-Year-Old Man
By J. Noel Espinoza/RioGrandeInfo
Norma Melendez cries when she recalls the morning her nephew German Ornelas was killed by Brownsville police at their second-floor apartment on the corner of 1st and St. Charles streets.
Melendez, who has relatives living next to her in the same apartment complex, says police didn’t have an arrest warrant when they broke into the house while her nephew was sleeping on a green couch in the small living room.
“They knocked on the door and then broke into with their guns drawn,” Melendez said. “They were already ready to shoot.”
Melendez said there were between six and eight police officers and she can’t believe they couldn’t do something else besides killing her nephew.
“They told me to go down and started shooting wildly,” she said. “Then, they cleaned the blood from the walls and ripped my couches apart to get the bullets. They cleaned the area. What are they trying to hide.”
The family placed a candle in the middle of the room where Ornelas died.
“They said he was trying to get a knife, but he never did,” Melendez said. “We want justice.”
Virginia Storey, Ornelas’ mother-in-law who lives in another apartment, says the family still doesn’t know the reason they were arresting her son-in-law. “As far as we know, he didn’t have anything pending,” Storey said. “We still can’t believe why this happened.”
The family said Ornelas had been arrested before for theft, but he had paid for his crime.
Brownsville police report that the Texas Ranges will be investigating the incident since it involves officers in a shooting.
Brownsville police spokesman J. J. Trevino told the Brownsville Herald he wasn’t sure whether the officers were wearing body cameras when the incident took place. Authorities also said the officers feared for their lives when Ornelas didn’t drop a knife he used against them.
RioGrandeInfo sent Trevino on Saturday an email for more information on the case.