The family of a man shot by a Corpus Christi police officer is telling its side of the story.
On Tuesday afternoon, Corpus Christi police were investigating a pair of robberies at the Hi-Ho Convenience Store in the 3900 block of Baldwin Blvd. They were looking for two suspects when their search took them to the 200 block of Torreon Street. That’s where family members say an officer shot Richard “Richie” Salazar at his home.
Police Chief Mike Markle says officers approached a man who fit the description of one of the suspects and began talking to him. At one point, the man was reportedly hiding his hands and officers asked him to show them. According to Markle, the man did not initially comply.
When he finally showed his hands, the chief says there was an item in his hand that was mistaken for a weapon. It was actually a lighter.
According to Salazar’s brother-in-law, Sean Garza, Salazar was at home all day on Tuesday. He was sleeping on a sofa in the patio and woke up startled after hearing a lot of commotion.
Garza says an officer with the Corpus Christi Police Department shot at Salazar five times.
Three bullets hit him and two other shots hit the house.
One of those bullets went into the living room. Garza said one bullet hit Salazar’s arm. The second bullet hit Salazar’s side, hit his colon and is lodged in his spine. The third bullet grazed Salazar’s right shoulder, Garza said.
According to Garza, Salazar’s right arm is severely injured and he will need to undergo intensive therapy.
“He had reconstructive surgery on his colon. The surgeon said Richard will need to have another surgery on his colon but he won’t need a bag like we initially thought,” Garza added.
Doctors are not sure if they will remove the bullet that’s lodged in Salazar’s spine.
Meanwhile, the family said Salazar is in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Christus Spohn Shoreline.
According to Garza, Salazar was having trouble breathing last night and was placed on a ventilator but he’s doing slightly better today. The ventilator was removed and Salazar is breathing on his own, he’s awake and speaking.
Salazar told his family he’s in pain but moving his right arm. Garza said his brother-in-law isn’t sure what happened yesterday.
Garza said police didn’t have to shoot his brother-in-law.
“Police didn’t use a taser,” Garza said. “That should have been their weapon of choice regardless of the situation.”
Salazar’s family is looking to hire an attorney to review the incident. As of Wednesday afternoon, they had not hired anyone.
The officer involved in the shooting is on administrative leave as CCPD continues its investigation, Markle said.