Victim’s family disputes City’s version of shooting



The family of 21-year-old Samuel Mata, who was fatally shot by San Benito Police Officer Oscar Lara last Wednesday, contest the events as told by the City.

Members of Mata’s family spoke to reporters during a press conference Monday, held at the offices of their attorney Kenny Perez. The family spoke of Mata’s good nature and hard work ethic.

In a phone call with the NEWS, Perez said Mata’s mother, Nora Lugo, was on the passenger side of her vehicle right before officer Lara arrived. Samuel was in the driver’s seat, with his feet already on the ground as he was attempting to exit the vehicle.

“I know when Mr. Mata was shot, his mother was reaching over to turn off the car, so she didn’t see exactly when he got shot. She didn’t see a gun either. She’s not saying there wasn’t a gun, but she didn’t see it. And she doesn’t believe that her son pointed or would point the gun at her, specifically,” said the attorney. “Unfortunately, Sam was shot four times.”

According to Perez, Lugo didn’t call the police, and she said the police officer was too aggressive in his approach.

The officer then dragged Mata’s body away.

According to Perez, Lugo remembers that, seconds before he shot him, Lara said to Mata, “Calm down, I’m going to pepper spray you.”

“We’re also trying to figure out why he wasn’t pepper-sprayed like he said he was as opposed to getting shot,” Perez said.

Perez assures they are not trying to begin any type of movement, referring to the national news of protests against police brutality, but rather only figure out what happened. He said he is working with the Texas Rangers.

“What we’re trying to do is to help get the answers for the family. I understand that they haven’t given us answers because obviously it’s an investigation under their part too. The Rangers said it would take 30 days; they have a dashcam and a body cam. If there is something we need to go after, it is our duty to go after it. And from there, we’ll move forward in any way we need to,” Perez said.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or grab a copy of the Aug. 27–Sept. 3, 2020 issue of the NEWS.

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