FARMERS BRANCH (CBSDFW.COM) – Farmers Branch city manager Charles Cox met on Thursday with the family of a teenager who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer back in March. The meeting was originally to include Mayor Bob Phelps, but he was not available at the time.
Still, according to lawyer Carlos Quintanilla, the family got what they have been wanting.
It was a day for answers after chaos took over Farmers Branch City Hall earlier this week. The family of 16-year-old Jose Cruz has been grieving since the teen was shot and killed by a now-former Farmers Branch police officer. Ken Johnson told officials that Cruz and another teen were burglarizing his car, so he chased them into Addison and opened fire.
The teenagers were allegedly unarmed during the altercation.
Cruz died at the scene while 16-year-old Edgar Rodriguez sustained injuries to his ear and finger. Rodriguez admitted that the two teens were stealing seats from vehicles, but thought that jail time would be his harshest penalty. “I never imagined that he would start shooting at us,” he said.
Johnson has been charged with murder and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was not injured during the incident, but later resigned from his position as a police officer. Johnson walked away without spending a single night behind bars after paying his $150,000 bond.
After two months without any further answers, the Cruz family sat down with Cox on Thursday for an emotional meeting. “We had a very, I thought, a very productive meeting,” Cox said afterward. “Obviously, this was a tragic event. The young man lost his life.”
Thursday’s meeting comes after an intense protest outside of Farmers Branch City Hall, which saw Phelps whisked out of the building by police officers. Phelps later explained that he was not worried for himself, but for his family. Protestors threatened to go to his home and cause a disturbance there as well.
“We’re moving on,” said Quintanilla.
However, the family is still pursuing a lawsuit against the city and Johnson. “Just because he’s a police officer doesn’t mean he can do whatever,” said Nora Rubi, the victim’s cousin, during a vigil shortly after his death. Johnson’s attorney has stated that his client did nothing wrong, acting out of obligation to stop a crime from being committed.
Cox said on Thursday, “My heart goes out to this family.”