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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Advocacy continues after death of Joshua Wright


Wright’s family and supporters stand outside, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2023, at Hays County Commissioners Court.

Trigger warning: This article contains mentions of police brutality and gun violence.
On Feb. 25, family and supporters of Joshua Wright, a pretrial inmate who was shot and killed by a Hays County corrections officer in December, stood vigil in front of the Hays County Courthouse to honor his life and reaffirm their calls of action.
On Dec. 12, officer Isaiah Garcia shot Joshua in the back six times in the emergency room of Ascension Seton Hospital in Kyle, Texas. Joshua had been taken to the hospital for an undisclosed medical emergency and asked to use the restroom when he attempted to escape.
He had been released from his handcuffs but was still restrained at the ankles when he was shot, according to his family.
Joshua’s older sister, Adrian Wright, said that she only wants transparency on what happened between her brother and Garcia.
“There are still a lot of things we still don’t know about what happened to Josh,” Adrian said. “We have asked for clarity and no one seems to want to speak up.”
Upon her brother’s death, Adrian and a group of community members began to seek out the body camera footage from that day. Three months later, they have yet to receive it.
“I just want to know what happened to my brother,” Adrian said. “We just want Hays County to answer the questions of the people and so far they haven’t been able to do that.”
Natalie Freeman, a Hays County resident and friend of Joshua’s family, said they have been patient in waiting for the footage but are starting to grow concerned.
“I feel that we’ve given ample time for the footage to be released,” Freeman said. “Josh died Dec. 12 so it has been several months. And from the outside, I’m not understanding why it is taking so long.”
According to a press release from the county on Jan. 6, the body camera footage would not be released until the Texas Rangers had completed an investigation per procedure.
“In Texas, there is no time limit that the Texas Rangers have to release body camera footage,” Freeman said. “In other states, it has to be released in either 30 or 60 days but there is no limit here. So with that, they could stall it for years.”
An allegation from Charlie Wilkerson, the head of the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas, said that Joshua had assaulted Garcia while trying to flee the hospital. In response, Hays County Judge Ruben Becerra released a statement calling for the release of the body camera footage. Wilkerson’s post is now deleted.
“At first, when it came out that Joshua had been killed, they were saying that he was trying to attack the officer and was coming at him,” Amy Kamp, the Hays County jail advocate for Mano Amiga, said. “Then they had to walk back and admit that Josh’s back was turned.”
Adrian said that her family simply wants answers as to what happened.
“Hays County needs to let those families in the community know what happened to Josh,” Adrian said. “My mom has said, ‘good or bad. I just want to know what happened to my son.'”
According to the Hays County Jail, Garcia was placed on administrative leave following Joshua’s death. However, he resumed working at the jail only two weeks later. According to the county’s statement, Garcia will not be in any positions that give him “direct supervision of jail inmates until the investigation is brought to some conclusion.”
“It’s like, ‘okay, well, we don’t know exactly what direct supervision means,'” Kamp said.
Kamp said that many inmates were nervous about Garcia being back in jail.
“The only reason that we knew that he was back at the jail was that people in the jail were calling us telling us that he was working and they were scared,” Kamp said. “That’s scary when somebody who’s employed to keep you in custody kills somebody that you know care about are back on the job.”
Freeman said that upon speaking out about Joshua’s story, they realized that there were many problems with the Hays County jail system that they also wish to bring awareness to.
“I’ve known family members and heard stories about bad run-ins with Hays County Jail,” Freeman said. “I have heard about mistreatment.”
Cyrus Grey, a Hays County resident, had been in contact with Garcia during his incarceration in 2018. He said that Garcia was aggressive with him on multiple occasions.
“Garcia had me moved into a tank once that he knew, at the time, had a gang of people that jumped Black people,” Grey said. “After I was jumped by the gang, they moved me back into the tank I was in and put me in lockdown.”
Grey said that he didn’t receive medical care until later that night. Upon hearing about Joshua’s death, Grey said that it came as no surprise that Garcia was involved.
“I wasn’t surprised at who did it,” Grey said. “Some of the guards in there go to work in jail because they have no control over their lives so this is an opportunity to have control over somebody.”
Kamp said that she and other members of Mano Amiga have been working on getting public attention to the cause.
“If officer Garcia had followed procedure and that the only reason he shot Josh was that he had no other choice then I think we would have seen that video immediately,” Kamp said.
Adrian said that she hopes for Texas State students to learn about her brother and get involved.
“I would just like for Josh’s story to be shared,” Adrian said. “I want the students to be aware of what’s happening in the community where they’re at.”
According to Freeman, Wright’s parents met with the county to discuss the video’s release to the family privately.
“His mom sounded like she felt pretty good about that meeting,” Freeman said. “She believes that the right thing will happen.”
Adrian described her brother as “full of life” and said that he always stood up for what he believed in. She said that he was always an advocate for the underdog.
“Josh has a 13-year-old daughter that he loved very much,” Adrian said. “And now we’re having conversations and answering questions for her as to why her daddy’s not here anymore.”
She said that they are a close family and continue to rely on their faith to pray for peace in the situation.
“His daughter pushes us to keep seeking those answers,” Adrian said. “We got to be able to tell her what happened to her daddy.”

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  • Protesters hold signs calling for the resignation of Hays County Sheriff Gary Culter outside to combat Joshua Wright’s shooting, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, at Hays County Sheriff Office.

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