The latest version of a report released by the Texas Attorney General’s Office in the December 2019 death of 27-year-old Mario Alberto Torres ruled his death a homicide, but included the possibility of it having been justifiable.
Officer Rolando Trujillo, Jr. fatally shot Torres in the head in the early morning hours of December 15 after the young man opened fire on Trujillo and two responding officers, Lucio Cortinas and Jacqueline Ramirez, according to the custodial death report released on Monday.
At 2:16 a.m. on December 15, the three officers drove towards Florence Lane, where they encountered Torres walking in Trujillo’s direction holding a midsize black object in his hand, the summary stated.
“While still sitting on the driver seat with the windows down and attempting to come to a complete stop in order to place the police vehicle in park, Officer Trujillo Jr. yelled at the male subject “show me your hands”. Officer Trujillo Jr. then observed a flash in front of the male subject and heard a loud bang. Officer Trujillo Jr. realized he was getting shot at and fired a round at the male subject from the seated position,” read the report.
The incident summary detailed that upon exiting the vehicle, Trujillo yelled, “let me see your hands” repeatedly. Torres allegedly ignored the commands as gunfire was exchanged.
“[Torres] shot multiple rounds towards the direction of Officer Trujillo Jr., the other responding officers (Officer Cortinas & Officer Ramirez) and multiple homes in the area (one of the rounds struck the driver side rear window of Officer Trujillo’s police unit),” the report stated.
Torres collapsed after he was struck by gunfire. According to the document, officer Cortinas then removed an assault rifle from Torres’s grasp and radioed dispatch for EMS. A U.S. Border Patrol Medic provided emergency medical assistance until EMS arrived to transport Torres to Valley Baptist Medical Center.
Torres passed away at 2:51 a.m., with cause of death on the final autopsy report listed as “gunshot wound to the head”.
A separate report from the Brownsville Police Department showed that 32 officers responded to the incident. According to the custodial death report, emergency dispatchers received 14 calls reporting multiple gunshots in the area, to include two callers who described the shots as coming from a large caliber weapon.
One caller reported 6 to 7 rounds fired by Torres prior to the officers’ arrival, and later reported Torres had fired an additional 10 to 11 rounds.
The final autopsy report conducted by Cameron County Forensic Pathology indicated four gunshot wounds on Torres body caused by two bullets. The first bullet entered on the right side of Torres’ forehead, exiting through the left temporal bone.
The second bullet entered Torres’ upper right thigh and exited through his lower right back. Both bullets were shot from an undetermined range.
Toxicology results outlined a blood alcohol concentration of 0.176, as well as Xanax and a small amount of cocaine in Torres’ bloodstream.
Trujillo was also involved in the 2015 death of 24-year-old Jose Roman Rodriguez, who sustained two gunshot wounds to the chest inside his vehicle after he was stopped in relation to a reported theft from a local 7-Eleven.