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Paul Vallas’s Son Was 1 Of 3 San Antonio Officers Who Shot Black Man Running From Police In 2022

Gus Vallas and two other officers chased and fatally shot 28-year-old Kevin Johnson in San Antonio, Texas, last year. The mayoral hopeful said the younger Vallas was not accused of wrongdoing and returned to full duty.

Vallas, a top contender for the mayor's race, confirmed Gus Vallas was one of the officers involved in the March 2022 fatal shooting of 28-year-old Kevin Johnson.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago; San Antonio Police Department
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Editor’s note: This story contains graphic video and descriptions of a fatal police shooting in San Antonio, Texas.

CHICAGO — The son of mayoral candidate Paul Vallas was one of three San Antonio, Texas, police officers who fatally shot a Black man fleeing arrest last March, his campaign confirmed Wednesday.

Gus Vallas and two other on-duty officers chased and fatally shot 28-year-old Kevin Johnson on March 14 as he ran from police, according to media reports. Police said a gun was found next to him after he was shot.

The incident and connection to Paul Vallas, considered among the frontrunners in the Feb. 28 mayoral race, was first reported by The TRiiBE Wednesday.

In a statement, the Vallas campaign confirmed Gus Vallas was involved in the shooting but has returned to “full duty.” He had been on the force for four years at the time, a San Antonio television station reported.

“This matter was the subject of a complete investigation. Gus Vallas was found not to have engaged in any violations of policy or procedure and has since returned to full duty,” the statement said.

The district attorney’s office in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, told the TRiiBE’s Jim Daley its civil rights division is reviewing the shooting.

The San Antonio Police Department released an edited and narrated version of police body camera footage of the shooting last year.

In it, officers can be seen chasing Johnson through a neighborhood and to a stream embankment.

Once Johnson reached the embankment, one of the officers in the video yells “get down, boy,” as Johnson runs across the shallow water. The officers then yell, “drop your hands, drop it.”

Johnson appears to trip after he reaches the other side of the embankment and starts to fall to the ground, turning to the left to face the officers. Officers yell, “gun, gun gun,” and fire shots, hitting Johnson.

Footage from another officer’s body cam, which has no sound, appears to show Johnson rolling on the ground, and his back is toward at least one of the officers when the shooting occurs.

Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene, according to media reports at the time. His family told Texas Public Radio he was shot at least nine times.

“They gunned him down like a hog,” his mother, Arlene Garcia, told local media at the time.

Officers found a gun next to Johnson’s body after he was killed, San Antonio Deputy Chief Chris Benavides said in a video.

In the narrated video, Benavides said officers “located a wanted person they had been searching for over several days. … Johnson was on parole for assault of a peace officer and was wanted on warrants for felony possession of a firearm and violating his parole.”


WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO. Police footage of three officers, including the son of mayoral candidate Paul Vallas, fatally shooting 28-year-old Kevin Johnson in San Antonio, Texas on March 14, 2022

A crowd clashed with police in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, with officers pepper-spraying a group, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

The shooting prompted public demands for the San Antonio Police Department to reassess its policy for releasing body camera footage relating to “critical incidents,” according to local media.

The policy was changed in late 2020, setting a 60-day window for police to make such videos public. After Johnson was killed, his family and community advocates demanded the footage be released immediately. A local congressman also said at the time the city council should adopt a policy to make such videos public after 10 days.

San Antonio police made the video public April 1, according to local media.

In a statement, the San Antonio Police Department said all three officers were cleared by Internal Affairs following an internal administrative investigation and returned to full duty in November 2022.

Vallas has been critical of reforms to Chicago’s own police foot chase policy, which was updated last year  after police shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo and young father Anthony Alvarez during separate foot chases in 2021.

On June 21, three months after Gus Vallas was involved in the chase and shooting of Johnson in San Antonio, Paul Vallas tweeted that the new policy in Chicago will “embolden criminals.”

The shooting comes to light in Chicago as Paul Vallas has emerged as a frontrunner in the upcoming mayoral election.

A WBEZ/Chicago Sun-Times/NBC5/Telemundo Chicago poll released Wednesday found him narrowly behind U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García and 1 percentage point ahead of Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Vallas has made crime and public safety central to his mayoral campaign and has advocated for hiring more police and detectives, according to his website.

He’s also been endorsed by Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, the union that represents Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers.

On Monday, Vallas appeared at a Northwest Side luncheon with police union President John Catanzara, according to Crain’s.

Catanzara is a controversial former Chicago police officer who resigned from the force as he faced termination in 2021.

That year, Catanzara defended rioters at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and likened a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city employees to Nazi Germany, comments for which he later apologized.

Lightfoot’s campaign slammed Vallas for aligning himself with Catanzara in a recent fundraising email.

“The far-right has found their guy for mayor, and his name is Paul Vallas,” the email states. “And they’re spending millions to convince Chicagoans to elect him.”

Nine mayoral candidates will face off in the Feb. 28 election. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two will face off in a April 4 runoff.

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