“Prosecuting criminals, protecting the rights and interests of victims, and seeking fair and equal justice."
A Message from District Attorney Beth McCann Regarding the Shooting Death of Alexis Mendez-Perez
I have great sympathy for the family of Alexis Mendez-Perez and understand that the events of April 23, 2020, have permanently altered their lives. However, I have an ethical obligation to only file cases when the evidence would prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury; this is true in all cases.
The decision not to file charges in the shooting death of Alexis Mendez-Perez was an extremely difficult decision. I have spent the last six weeks watching live interviews of those involved and re-watching the recorded interviews. I have spent countless hours with the experienced homicide detectives who investigated this case and with four of my most experienced chief deputy district attorneys discussing the evidence in this case. Four experienced homicide detectives and four experienced chief deputy district attorneys all agreed that we could not prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. Under the law, a person is entitled to use deadly physical force when he or she has reasonable grounds to believe and does believe that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury or another person reasonably appears about to commit assault.
Under our current law, our office has the burden to prove a murder charge and also to disprove that Mr. Manning was defending his own life and the lives of his family pursuant to self-defense as explained above.
The essential facts of this situation are that Mr. Manning’s wife woke him up around 1:30 a.m. and told him that there were five or six people breaking into the house right behind their house. She called 911 and described that the people were breaking glass and had now gotten into the house and were “tearing things up” and shining lights. They were making a lot of noise. Mr. Manning and his wife were in their upstairs bedroom and could see the house behind theirs from the bedroom window. They had their three children in the house, one of whom has a bedroom on the ground floor facing the backyard and the neighbor’s house.
Mr. Manning has a gun that he keeps locked so he retrieved his gun and went downstairs to check and make sure the window to his son’s bedroom was locked. He went out on his patio to look at the window from the outside. At that time, three men jumped over the fence into his yard from the house that they had just broken into, running toward him and his family. He believed that he and his family were in imminent danger of harm and he fired at them. After he fired, they continued running and they then headed for the gate on the side of his house which he knew was locked. There is also a window well which they could have entered on that side of the house and his son’s window was close to their path. He followed them because he feared they would come back into his yard because the gate was locked. He saw two of them jump over the gate but the third turned around to face him so he shot again because he thought the person was coming back into his yard or that he possibly had a weapon.
The young people who were there gave different accounts of who jumped over the fence and who was where when the shots were fired. The evidence they gave does not allow us to prove when the young man who died was shot or where he was because he kept running for a block and a half at least before he stopped running. None of the young men stumbled or staggered as if shot and they do not know where they were when shot. The coroner states that the shot in the back is consistent with a couple of different scenarios.
The detectives worked very hard to track down the other young people who were involved in breaking into the house and also some who were with them earlier that night. Suffice it to say that their testimony was not consistent and one was not cooperative.
Believe me, I do not condone gun usage. In fact, you may remember that I was the prime sponsor of two of the five gun bills we passed when I was in the legislature. My preference would be for tighter restrictions on gun ownership. However, our law is our law, and Mr. Manning was legally entitled to have a firearm in his home for the protection of himself and his family. He has lived at this house for 20 years (the first house he bought) and stated that he committed to stay in the neighborhood despite the frequent gunshots and troublesome activity.
Of course, I don’t condone homicide in any degree; we file homicide cases pretty much every week. However, I also turn down cases in which the evidence does not support a filing which is my ethical and sworn obligation. I think you would expect no less of me.
I, and the people who work for me, have to make tough and heart-wrenching decisions practically every day. We deal with the worst times in folks’ lives and we deal with tragedies that cause me to lose sleep and leave haunting images in my head. My heart bleeds for this family who lost a young son; nothing we can do will bring him back. But I have to honor my oath and my commitment to my responsibilities and the community.
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