About an hour ago, Deputy Chief Craig Miller, commander of the Crimes Against Persons Division, held a press conference at Dallas PD HQ to discuss yesterday's police shooting of 32-year-old Tony Menchaca. At the press conference, Miller outlined the day's events and explained that Menchaca had just been released from a drug treatment center and had a long history of drug abuse and mental illness, at least according to family members.
During the press conference, a request was made for the department to release a photo of the item Menchaca was holding when he made what DPD called "gestures that the officers deemed threatening" before five opened fire and shot him to death. DPD spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell just sent that photo, along with the note that "it was fashioned from a cigarette pack."
DPD says that several residents near the W. Davis Street taco stand from which the first 911 call was placed early Sunday morning saw this in Menchaca's waistband and believed it to be a gun. He claimed as much, telling officers: "Either you're going to have to kill me, or I'm going to kill one of you." At which point, the department says, he reached into his waistband, and officers opened fire, unloading 23 rounds total -- though the department has not yet said how many struck Menchaca.
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Mitchell explains, via e-mail: "It's important to note that the officers' decision to shoot was not based on the suspect displaying this item at the time of the shooting. We are releasing the photograph to help the public understand the mindset of Mr. Menchaca on the day of the shooting." An investigation continues.