Kaitlin Bain Beaumont Enterprise, Texas
PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Tensions rose Thursday night as the family of a 35-year-old man killed in a Port Arthur officer-involved shooting in late December viewed body cam footage of the shooting for a second time.
Shayne Lyons’ family arrived at the police station Thursday evening thinking all their questions, such as the name of the officer involved in the shooting that killed Lyons, would be answered.
Andre Molo, Lyons’ brother, brought his questions in a well-worn spiral notebook. But he and his wife left about 30 minutes after they went into the police station, both visibly upset, saying they weren’t getting answers.
The rest of the family — including Harold Molo, Lyons’ uncle who drove from Louisiana to view the video for the first time Thursday — stayed with police for some 20 minutes after Andre Molo left. But they weren’t given any more information.
Lyons was killed after he refused to drop a large weapon and advanced on an officer despite being told several times to drop the weapon, police said at the time.
But the family began to dispute those details after watching the body cam footage Wednesday and Thursday.
Andre Molo said he didn’t see his brother advance at the officer with the machete he was carrying. Instead, he questions why the officer didn’t call for backup, why he got out of the car with his gun drawn and why he shot Lyons eight times, among other questions.
Paula Singleton, Lyons’ mother, said she hopes to get her answers — such as the name of the officer involved and how he feels about the situation — Friday.
Regardless, the family seems poised to take further action.
Harold Molo wouldn’t give any details about what’s to come but said it would become clear in the next few days.
“This was wrong,” he said. “He didn’t have to kill my nephew. Justice will prevail.”
Earlier this week, the family postponed a protest planned for Thursday after Port Arthur police told them they would be allowed to view the body cam footage from the shooting.
Several members of the family emphasized that it wasn’t canceled, but was put on hold until they determined what to do next.
Andre Molo noted the support he’s received from the community, from people saying they were planning to attend the protest to using the hashtag #Justice4Shayne, has made the situation easier to bear.
The Port Arthur Police Department investigation into the incident is ongoing.
A Jefferson County grand jury declined to take action against the officer late last month.
However, these two investigations could have different outcomes.
Generally speaking, a criminal indictment determines whether someone will face criminal charges for an incident, while an administrative investigation by a police department determines whether certain procedures, such as when force can be used, were followed correctly.
During a grand jury hearing a group of 12 jurors determine if there’s enough evidence to bring a case to trial. They apply the same set of standards for a police officer as they would for any other resident, Jefferson County Assistant District Attorney Cory Kneeland said.
When looking at whether it’s likely a prosecutor could prove a shooting was justified, the grand jury examines the threat of death or serious bodily injury that any reasonable person would perceive, among other considerations.
Kneeland said the public doesn’t know “all the facts” in Lyons’ case and he’s supportive of the grand jury’s decision. He said he didn’t give the grand jury a recommendation of what to do in the case.
“They chose methodically, logically and unemotionally,” he said.
It’s during an administrative review of an officer-involved shooting by the police department that details about the officer, including their age, level of training and experience will likely be taken into account, according to best practices put forth by the U.S. Department of Justice and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
“There could be administrative training issues, but we’re almost all citizens with the same rights,” Kneeland said, speaking generally.
©2019 the Beaumont Enterprise (Beaumont, Texas)