A Hays County Grand Jury Aug. 15 found law enforcement officers who shot and killed a Wimberley man in a 2017 shootout did so in self-defense.
The ruling came as the result of a months-long Hays County Sheriff’s Office internal investigation into the incident, which was deemed an “ambush,” as well as an inquiry by the Texas Rangers, according to a press release.
Wes Mau, Hays County district attorney, said in a statement that evidence “conclusively establishes” the shooting death of Rocky West was “justified as both self-defense and defense of other officers,” with the jury finding no wrong doing on the part of law enforcement.
On Nov. 24, 2017, HCSO deputies were dispatched to a residence along Spoke Hollow in Wimberley for a suspicious person with a handgun.
The caller reported they heard breaking glass in the area of Jean’s Antiques and saw someone with a flashlight in the business. The caller disconnected and didn’t answer attempts call back, according to the release.
When deputies arrived, they did not find evidence of broken glass or forced entry. However, deputies learned the phone number was associated with West, who lived nearby, but the caller gave a different name and address.
“Given the suspicions raised by the call, and the officers’ prior knowledge of Mr. West, the officers determined to approach West’s residence with caution,” Mau said in a statement.
Five law enforcement officials, driving clearly marked vehicles, approached West’s home, which was completely dark, according to the release.
When an officer pulled to the roadside near the driveway entrance, West fired “six shotgun blasts” from behind one of the rock walls framing the driveway entrance. Officials believe West fired 11 shotgun rounds in total.
Deputies then exited their vehicles and exchanged gunfire with West for just over 30 seconds, according to the release. During the shootout, one HCSO deputy was evacuated after receiving serious, but not life threatening injuries from shotgun pellets that hit his upper legs, torso and arms.
Deputies saw West drop behind the rock wall, and remained at the scene believing he had been struck, but were unsure of his status.
Officers did not discover West was deceased until a robot was brought in and found his body. According to the release, deputies were unable to approach the area behind the rock wall without exposing themselves to gunfire.
An autopsy determined West died from a gunshot wound to the head.
Mau said no deputy fired prior to West opening fire; evidence at the scene, including positions of the vehicles and spent shell casings, indicated deputies never entered West’s property prior to being fired upon.
Mau said West fired without warning, doing so from darkness and a concealed position. Vehicle damage and the type and amount of ammunition at the scene indicated West attempted to inflict “lethal damage to the deputies,” Mau said.
“The Hays County Criminal District Attorney agreed that all of the officers who employed deadly force in this case did so justifiably under the law and reasonably with respect to the circumstances,” Mau said.