An independent autopsy commissioned by the family of a young Black man killed by police last week in Texas confirmed their worst fears: Joshua Feast was fatally shot in the back.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing the 22-year-old‘s family, shared the details of the report during a news conference Wednesday evening.
“It is very consistent with literally what the witness’ accounts were from that night,” said Crump about the shooting in the town of La Marque on Dec. 9. “When it entered, it caused all kinds of damage and literally the injuries caused Joshua Feast to be dead on arrival at the hospital.”
Crump previously uncovered La Marque Police Officer Jose Santos’ prior history of violence, pointing to bodycam footage from 2013 which showed him beating a man and holding his head underwater as he yells, “I can’t breathe.” At the time Santos was employed by the Galveston Police Department.
A cloud of doubt and suspicions are cast over Feast’s killing and subsequent police investigation. The shooting took place across the street from Feast’s uncle’s home around 11:15 p.m.
Feast’s uncle told local news outlet KTRK that he witnessed Santos make a U-turn after spotting Feast. He called out to Feast, which prompted the young man to run, and fired a shot that struck him in the back. Through this account, Feast posed no threat to Santos. It also established that the two may have had prior history if Santos was able to casually identify Feast on the street.
A neighbor who witnessed the aftermath said they heard Santos yell commands for Feast to put his hands up when Feast was already shot.
La Marque Police said Feast was wanted for other incidents and recovered a gun at the scene, though they refuse to release details and bodycam footage. The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office is conducting the investigation while Santos was placed on administrative leave, falling in line with standard police procedures taken following on-duty shootings.
But like other Black families who have lived through this type of state-sanctioned violence, the question remains if justice will actually be served. Feast’s family and legal representation demand that the footage of the shooting be released for full transparency and are backed by the families of George Floyd and Pamela Turner. Supporters of Feast are advocating for the termination of Santos and the La Marque Police Chief Kirk Jackson.
Feast’s mother launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her son’s two children and to offset the costs of his funeral and legal fees.
“My son was a loving, caring, and god-fearing man, who leaves behind two amazing children whom he loved dearly, five-year old Alayah, and three-year old Joshua Jr,” she wrote. “This fund is established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for Joshua. A portion of these funds will also go to the Estate of Joshua Feast for the benefit and care of his two children.”