SAN ANTONIO - The night Pierre Abernathy died one San Antonio police officer captured the confrontation with police on dashboard camera. After fighting with the city for more than a year, News 4 WOAI Trouble Shooter Mireya Villarreal got a hold of that video.
Pierre Abernathy’s family admits he shouldn't have run from police that night back in August 2011, but they say he didn't deserve to die on the front lawn of a neighbor’s home, after being tased several times.
Police tried pulling Pierre Abernathy over for dangerously going the wrong way on Loop 1604.
An officer started recording near I-10 and Medical Drive and follows Pierre all the way to the far west side, where he ends up in front of his mother's home.
Officer: "Get out of the vehicle. Get out of the vehicle. Get out. Open the door."
The way the lead officer positions his car keeps us from seeing what happened next.
After watching the video for the first time Abernathy's family has questions.
"He followed him for 30 minutes. Why would you not want to record the driver's side of the car, so you can see what happens?” Shavonda Bailey asked. She is the mother of Pierre’s children.
The officer was wearing a microphone that night. So, we can hear what's going on. That is until his microphone goes silent.
Pierre's mother, Brenda Allen and Bailey, want to know why the mic went silent.
"If I didn't see it, I expected to hear it,” Brenda told us. “Because I know they all have those little microphones."
"It's too coincidental that it mutes right when they should have been getting him in custody,” Shavonda added.
Chief Bill McManus sat down with me and tells me Pierre was passively resisting that night. So, it may have sounded like he was complying, but his actions told a different story.
I asked him if it is common for officers to mute their microphones while in the field, especially during this type of situation.
“At least one of the mutes that you're talking about, one of the occasions you're talking about, was muted while he was struggling with Mr. Abernathy," Chief McManus explained.
Use of Force reports we got a hold of show Pierre was punched, kicked, hit with metal batons or asps, and even the dogs were let loose on him. When all of that failed to work the officers tased him five times, each tase ranging from two to ten seconds.
"There is no set limit on the number of times you can tase someone,” Chief McManus said. “It's all a matter of effectiveness of each cycle."
Pierre's family hoped that video from other patrol cars on scene would prove excessive force was used, but we're told this is the only video SAPD recorded that night.
I asked Chief McManus about the lack of video, “It looks like there was only one piece of audio and one piece of video from that incident. How does that happen?”
“The DWI units are equipped with the in-car video. I don't know which cars were on the scene. Obviously, one DWI car was on the scene,” he answered.
McManus's office confirms at least five of seven officers at the scene had cameras installed in their patrol cars. The officer rolling in the video we've obtained is the only one who recorded because the others weren't trained or authorized to use the system.
Pierre Abernathy died just feet away from his mother's home on August 4, 2011. It's a night his mother will never forget.
His autopsy shows the combination of cocaine found in his system, a prolonged struggle with police, and an enlarged heart are all to blame for his death.
The officers who responded to the scene that night were cleared of any wrong-doing by the Bexar County District Attorney’s office and internal investigators.
Pierre Abernathy Case - Dash-Cam Video
During the time when the microphone is on some pretty strong language is used that we chose not to air during our newscast.
Since watching the video, the Abernathy family has contacted the NAACP because they believe this was a hate crime and racially charged language was used during the struggle.
After we interviewed Chief McManus several weeks ago, the San Antonio Police Department went back and reviewed these tapes and spoke neighbors about that night. They still do not believe any of their officers used racial slurs and says the allegations are baseless.