HARKER HEIGHTS, Texas — The case against a Bell County sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a Navy veteran during a traffic stop in Harker Heights was dismissed Tuesday.
Lyle Blanchard was shot to death on Aug. 30, 2016, after being pulled over by Bell County Sheriff's Deputy Shane Geers on suspicion of driving under the influence.
Dashcam video showed the officer following Blanchard on a dirt road for 1000 feet before Blanchard pulled over. In the video, Blanchard is seen exiting his vehicle and turning to face the officer. He then appeared to reach into his pocket and was trying to pull something out before Geers shot Blanchard multiple times, according to the video.
Geers and other officials attempted to give Blanchard medical assistance, but he died from his injuries.
Police confirmed Blanchard was unarmed.
The Blanchard family filed lawsuits against the officer. They dropped the suit the first time but then filed again in federal court, claiming that Geers used excessive force and claiming the Bell County Sheriff's Department showed "inadequate policies regarding hiring, retention, and training."
The complaint, filed July 26th, also had an opinion from Roger Clark of
Police Procedures Consultant, Inc. regarding the alleged excessive use of force.
In that opinion Clark argued "Deputy Geers did not approach
the vehicle, and did not issue any audible instructions. Subsequently, Mr. Blanchard
exited his vehicle. Mr. Blanchard’s was wearing cargo shorts and his hands were
outstretched, to show that he was unarmed... Mr. Blanchard did not
disobey any audible instructions from Deputy Geers. Deputy Geers made no effort to
de-escalate the situation."
Clark further argued "It should be noted that although Mr. Blanchard reached into his cargo pants quickly, he was clearly unable to extract whatever it was he was reaching for. Moreover, as a trained Deputy, Deputy Geers, who stood fifty feet away, should have known that a small cargo pant pocket could not hold a firearm powerful enough to penetrate his armored patrol car door."
Geers' Attorney, Joe Rivera, submitted a "motion to dismiss" to the court August 18th, 2018. In that motion Rivera made multiple arguments for the case to be dismissed, and provided an argument that Greer's actions should not be considered excessive force several sections.
That motion stated, "having needlessly led Deputy Geers from a well traveled public paved road onto a secluded private dirt road and then 1,000 feet down that dirt road, Blanchard exited his vehicle without being instructed to do so, turned toward Deputy Geers, and reached down and into his pocket with a move that looks much like the drawing of a weapon...Even though Blanchard turned out to be unarmed, the law does not require the court to determine whether an officer was in actual, imminent danger of serious injury, but rather, whether 'the officer reasonably believe[d] that the suspect pose[d] a threat of serious harm to the officer or to others.'"
The motion further stated, "Deputy Geers reasonably feared for his safety under the facts alleged and appropriately used deadly force. At a minimum, his perception of a risk to his safety was not so unreasonable as to make his use of force a violation of the Fourth Amendment."
On Oct. 9th, Judge Alan D. Albright met both parties at a hearing in Waco and sided with the defense, dismissing the lawsuit. The hearing took less than fifteen minutes, according to courthouse staff.
Blanchard's family attorney, Robert Ranco, said he could not say what the next step is for the family or if there is a next step.