Bodycam footage obtained by KENS5 depicts the shooting that took the life of 18-year-old Charles "Chop" Roundtree, who had just become a father at the time.
On Thursday, KENS 5 obtained bodycam footage
depicting the fatal shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Charles “Chop” Roundtree last fall. Officer Steve Casanova fired the shot that struck Roundtree in the chest, killing him.
On October 17, 2018, Casanova and two other officers responded to a criminal complaint made by Maria Herrera and Esteban Preciado, who were selling caldo de pollo to a Facebook customer on the city's West Side. According to the statement given to Casanova, a man came out of a house located at 217 Roberts Street and punched Preciado in the face for parking on his block. The assailant was later identified as Davante Snowden.
Casanova, who was already familiar with the home, took the complaint down and visited the property with another officer. The video shows Casanova knocking on the slightly-open door, pushing it open to reveal Snowden, witness Taylor Singleton and Roundtree sitting on a couch in the living room.
According to a statement Singleton gave KENS 5 in January
, Casanova says “What’s up, man?” without identifying himself as an officer. Singleton said at that point, Snowden got up to confront Casanova, though none of them knew he was an officer at the time. The witness said the officer then shone the flashlight on them.
The footage backs Singleton up, showing Snowden getting up off of the couch and saying “Hey, who the fuck is this?”
It’s at this moment that Casanova sticks his hands through the front door’s security bars and shouts, “Hey, let me see your fucking hands!” before firing two shots into the home.
After yelling that shots had been fired, backing away from the property and positioning themselves across the street, a second officer across the way asks Casanova what he had seen.
Casanova responds, “Hey, he had a fucking gun and he pulled it out!”
Later, another man on the property begins to crawl away from the home and out from under Casanova’s line of sight. A dog follows him out and is heard off-camera barking at the second officer, who shoots and kills the dog.
Once backup arrived, the occupants of the home were ordered to come out one at a time with their hands in the air and walk backwards toward the officers.
The footage later shows Casanova recounting his version of events to an SAPD detective:
The front door was like slightly open, so I knocked and it swung open. The guy with the gun was sitting down directly in front of me, there was a female next to him, and another young kid next to him. Like I said, they both kinda matched the description I was given, and he said ‘Who the fuck are you?’ and then he looked at me, and I guess it took him a while to realize that I was an officer, so when he he did that, he goes, ‘Man you can’t fucking-’ and then he kinda stopped what he was doing, and I couldn’t see exactly what was in his waist, because his hand was covering it. Then he kinda moved it slightly and I saw a gun. But he took like two steps towards me, and then he kinda went to the side and he was like lifting his shirt up, so I fired I believe two rounds at him.
SAPD had originally reported one of the shots fired had gone through Snowden’s buttocks and into Roundtree’s chest. In her account of the shooting
, Singleton says the shot that went through Snowden had gone in to the wall toward the neighbor’s house, and Casanova had hit Roundtree in a separate shot.
Immediately following the shooting, SAPD Chief William McManus said
, “It's a very, very unfortunate, tragic incident that happened...Unfortunately, that person who was just sitting there was killed by a bullet fired at someone who was attempting to use deadly force against police."
He then credited Casanova for his handling of the shooting, stating, "The approach was very professional. There was nothing hostile about it and unfortunately the reaction from the individual with the gun was something he should not have done."
In the aftermath, Snowden was transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and later charged with felony gun possession. In March, Snowden’s attorney Alex Washington refuted SAPD’s story
, stating DNA testing conducted on a weapon found at the scene did not contain Snowden’s fingerprints. He was adamant the bodycam footage would help prove that Snowden never had a weapon, and had simply stood up.
Days after the shooting, Roundtree’s family filed suit against SAPD
, claiming Snowden was unarmed and that Casanova did not provide adequate medical attention to Roundtree at the scene.
SAPD has not commented on the footage due to the pending investigation.
The video ends with a voiceover of Casanova stating, “This all started because a fucking lady flagged me down saying that someone in the house punched her.”
Casanova is still working for SAPD,
but was placed on administrative duty as part of the department’s standard protocol.
According to KENS 5
, SAPD had visited the house 130 times before, including 64 visits for drugs and six for gun-related incidents.
Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.