Why Did Campus Cop Shoot, Kill Honors Student?

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on December 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Texas college police officer shot and killed an unarmed honors student following a traffic stop early Friday that went terribly awry.

Friends and family claim the student was a sweet and gentle person, but the officer claims that "a struggle ensued."

Did the officer have the right to fatally shoot the student?

Shooting After Traffic Stop

Robert Cameron Redus, a 23-year-old student at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, was pulled over by campus police Cpl. Christopher Carter near the campus about 2 a.m. for driving "erratically at a high rate of speed," according to a university statement reported by CNN.

While Carter waited for backup from local police, Carter reportedly tried to restrain Redus. But during the struggle, Redus supposedly grabbed Carter's baton and allegedly started attacking Carter. Carter then shot Redus at least three times.

Those who knew Redus described the honors student as the "gentlest person" and are baffled by the incident. Unfortunately, there's no dashboard camera footage of the altercation.

But a witness did claim to hear Redus sarcastically ask Carter, "Oh, you're gonna shoot me?" Less than a minute later, Redus was shot and killed.

Campus Police Powers

According to the university's website, all of its campus officers "are licensed and trained as certified peace officers by the state of Texas."

That's important information because at many other schools, university and college campus police often act like "real" police but don't actually have the same legal authority as other law-enforcement agencies.

Though Carter may have had the authority to use deadly force, the investigation will likely focus on whether his actions were reasonable under the circumstances.

If it was not reasonable for Carter to open fire on Redus, he could face criminal charges, civil liability for using excessive force, and/or face disciplinary review.

Carter -- who's held nine different jobs with eight law-enforcement agencies over the past eight years, according to the San Antonio Express-News -- is currently on paid administrative leave pending the investigation. That is a standard procedure in these types of incidents.

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