Video of officer-involved shooting in Corpus Christi draws controversy


CCShooting: WARNING: Video contains graphic material.

An officer-involved shooting on the morning of Sept. 10 drew some controversy following the circulation of a video of the incident.

According to KIII News, the officer, later identified by the Corpus Christi Police Department as Senior Officer William Hobbs, was responding to reports of a man aggressively waving a pipe-like object at passing vehicles at the corner of Weber and Gollihar.

The video that circulated following the incident shows Hobbs with his weapon drawn as he approaches the man, who appears to be barefoot wearing red shorts and a black hoodie. The man then appears to swing the pipe at Hobbs, who then fires off 5-6 shots while the man drops the pipe and turns around before falling to the ground.

As the video made its round across social media, many called into question the officer’s actions, with some asking why the officer did not opt for a non-lethal method of subjugation or why the officer kept firing after the man turned his back.

According to Lt. Michael Pena, Public Information Officer for the CCPD, the department and District Attorney’s office are in the midst of their own investigation of the incident.

“We start by looking at the act itself,” Pena said. “On top of that, we look at policies and procedures. What can we do differently? We try to look at those and see what we can learn.”

So, what exactly is protocol for CCPD in situations like what unfolded that morning? According to Dr. Wendi Pollock, associate professor and Coordinator of the Criminal Justice program at TAMU-CC, while the state of Texas does mandate some forms of training for Texas Commission on Law Enforcement certification, any further training is up to the academy or agency the officer moves on to.

“Some require that officers have more advanced training on use-of-hands or other techniques,” Pollock said. “Some require officers to engage in scenario training where they can put verbal and other de-escalation techniques to the test under realistic conditions. Some agencies do not. I don’t know what Corpus does in their academy.”

At the time of this story’s filing, Island Waves has not yet heard back for information related to de-escalation training from the CCPD academy.

Pollock said that officers who receive their TCOLE certification would have gone through conversations regarding the “force continuum,” a kind of guide that illustrates when to escalate the type of force used. However, Pollock notes that the guide illustrates a progression of force that often doesn’t happen in real life, such as with the use of OC spray that differs from commercial pepper spray.

“If there is wind (as is common in Corpus), these tools cannot be used because the officer cannot risk having his/her vision impaired in the middle of a high-risk confrontation,” Pollock said. “In addition, some people have an immunity to OC sprays.

“This is just one example, continued Pollock. “In addition, many of these situations unfold in a matter of seconds. There is little time to make that force choice.”

Certain mandates were outlined under SB 1849 (House version HB2702), sometimes referred to as the “Sandra Bland Act” named for an African-American woman whose controversial death in a county jail following a routine traffic stop sparked widespread condemnation, which passed in the state legislature in 2017. According to the house bill’s text, an officer must “complete a 40-hour statewide education and training program on de-escalation and crisis intervention techniques to facilitate interactions with persons with mental impairments.”

Sr. Officer Hobbs was put on administrative leave per CCPD policy following the shooting. According to KRIS-TV, the man wielding the pipe was expected to survive and is facing charges for felony aggravated assault on a police officer. His identity will not be released by CCPD until he is booked.