City responds to Mata shooting allegations

Attorney General releases custodial death report



The City of San Benito is refuting claims from various media reports that Samuel Mata, who died at the hands of Officer Oscar Lara on August 19, might not have had a weapon at the time of the shooting.

In a press release from August 28, the City stated that body cameras and police vehicle camera footage confirm the pistol’s presence.

Furthermore, the office of Attorney General Ken Paxton released a custodial death report on Mata’s shooting.

The report suggests that Mata appeared intoxicated (alcohol or drugs) and was not under arrest at the time of the shooting.

A preliminary autopsy report from the death report shows a gunshot wound to the chest ultimately led to Mata’s death. The toxicology report is pending.

According to the press release, San Benito Police arrived at approximately 11:08 p.m. and saw a running vehicle parked in front of 531 East Powers. The officer heard and saw a female, later identified as Nora Lugo, and Samuel Mata, the decedent, in a heated argument with each other as Lugo was physically trying to remove Mata from the driver seat of the running vehicle.

The death report concurs with this version of events and goes on to say that Mata’s mother did not want Samuel to drive and informed the officer that she believed he was under the influence of narcotics, to which Samuel replied that he was. The report continues saying that the officer at the scene ordered Mata to calm down several times and told him that he would get pepper-sprayed if he didn’t comply. Samuel exited the vehicle and began pushing his mother telling her to get out of the way. As Samuel got out of the vehicle, he displayed a firearm and pointed it in the direction of his mother.

Samuel Mata’s family attorney, Kenny Perez, said the family has yet to respond to the City’s statement. Perez said the Texas Rangers are willingly cooperating with him and the family. Furthermore, Perez said Mata’s family would wait until after they, along with Perez, met with the Rangers on Friday, September 4.

Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or grab a copy of the Sept. 4–10, 2020 issue of the NEWS.

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1 comment

    • Judith Z on September 4, 2020 at 6:00 pm
    • Reply

    The camera footage captured by the policemen should be released to the public as proof.

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