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Parents doubt official account of how their son was shot by officer

By Joshua Rubin and Ben Brumfield, CNN
updated 6:27 AM EST, Wed December 11, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Robert Cameron Redus' parents believe he is in heaven but are in pain over his loss
  • Police: Campus officer says Redus struggled with him, hit him
  • Police chief says Cpl. Christopher Carter is now on administrative leave
  • Friends: Redus was on college dean's list, was co-valedictorian at his high school

Alamo Heights, Texas (CNN) -- Valerie Redus has spent much of her time crying, since her son Cameron was killed by a campus police officer in Texas last week.

For now, she and her husband Mickey are withholding judgment about who was at fault for his death -- their 23-year-old son or Cpl. Christopher Carter, who shot him Friday.

"We wish that everybody else would do the same, would reserve judgment until facts are known," Mickey Redus told CNN's George Howell late Tuesday.

The official account has left the Reduses in disbelief.

"It just seems very inconsistent with ... the young man that we knew," Mickey Redus said. Now that the popular honor student is dead, everywhere his parents look, people remind them of how upstanding he was, he said.

About 100 students turned out to a vigil to mourn his loss Saturday at the Catholic school.

Texas college student killed

The Reduses don't see how their son could have done anything so wrong as to deserve being shot.

Police say that Redus heavily resisted arrest and even assaulted Carter, a campus police officer at University of the Incarnate Word, a Catholic school in Alamo Heights that Redus attended.

Carter gave him multiple warnings before using his weapon. He fired six shots, hitting Redus five times, said Alamo Heights police Chief Richard Pruitt.

Redus was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Mickey Redus said that he and his wife are not sad for their son's sake.

"We believe him to be in heaven beginning the greatest adventure ever. But for ourselves there's pain," he said, as his composure gave way to sobs, "because there's this huge hole that's left by his presence here with us."

In spite of heaven, they wish he was still with them.

"I'd give anything if he'd walk right through that door," Valerie Redus said.

A traffic stop

It started with a night out, and student Robert Cameron Redus, who went by his middle name, had some drinks. One of his friends later confirmed she had been barhopping with him.

Someone took pictures of the outing. Redus' mother studied them. Everyone was smiling; she can't imagine how the night ended so tragically.

"I was glad that he was able to spend it with his classmates," Valerie Redus said.

At the end of the night, Redus was headed in the direction of his apartment, when he drove past Carter, who was patrolling in a campus police pickup truck, Pruitt said.

The student sped into a construction zone in "bad weather conditions," he said. Carter followed him.

Redus struck a curb on the right, Carter reported, then swerved left into the opposite lane of traffic, so the officer switched on his emergency lights and pulled him over, Pruitt said.

Redus pulled into the apartment complex where he lived, and Carter said he followed, but he made a fateful slip.

He reported the wrong street location to police dispatchers, which caused his call to be routed to a police department farther away.

Alamo Heights police could have made it there to assist him sooner, but his call went to their San Antonio counterparts. This caused a delay of several minutes in response time, Pruitt said.

He was left alone with Redus, and things went wrong. The two men fought. Had Pruitt's officers, who were closer, been called to respond, Redus might still be alive, the chief said.

The scuffle

Investigators have Carter's report on the matter, and some witnesses heard or saw parts of his confrontation with Redus. One of them called police.

A dash cam captured the audio, but there is no video, since the camera's mount was broken. The lens was pointed in the wrong direction.

But the sound of the scuffle was revealing, police have said.

Carter ordered Redus to put his hands on his vehicle, the campus officer later told police. At first, he obeyed. But when the officer pulled out his handcuffs, the student refused to cooperate, Pruitt said.

The two scuffled for more than six minutes.

"Officer Carter instructed Robert Redus 14 times to place his hands behind his back, and informed him three times that he was under arrest, and to stop resisting 56 times," Pruitt said, referring to the recording.

Carter pulled his baton, but Redus took it away and beat him with it, Pruitt said.

Pruitt said the officer had injuries on his arm and head that corroborate his account.

Carter was able to wrestle the baton away from Redus. But then the student charged at the officer with his arm raised, police said.

Carter warned him four times that he would shoot if Redus did not stop, Pruitt said.

Carter opened fire.

He is on administrative leave after the shooting, which is standard procedure. He is taking the incident very hard, Pruitt said. "This is not an easy thing for him, I can assure you."

Disbelief shared

Friends at the school say the Cameron Redus they knew wasn't the type to attack police.

They knew a student who made the dean's list at college and had been co-valedictorian at a Christian high school back home in Baytown, Texas, east of Houston.

"He is one of the nicest, most caring, compassionate guys ever. Not a mean bone in his body," Redus' friend Jonathan Guajardo said.

Guajardo believes deadly force was unnecessary and grilled Pruitt on the topic at a news conference. He questioned whether Redus was a real threat to Carter, who Pruitt conceded was much taller and heavier.

People trusted Cameron, Redus' mother said.

His former boss turned over to him the keys to his business and computer passwords, she said. His managers came to his vigil to talk about how hardworking he was.

Cameron did good deeds, his father said. He regularly helped an elderly man do his shopping. His son had a knack for people, he said.

He backpacked across South America. He stayed with indigenous people and took on odd jobs for room and board while he picked up Spanish.

They couple looks at photos of his adventures to remind themselves of how intensely he enjoyed his life.

When they do, the tears come rushing back.

Shooting leaves 2 high schoolers dead at house party near Houston

Video captures beating of college student in Atlantic City; student sues cops

Joshua Rubin reported from Alamo Heights, Texas. Ben Brumfield and David Simpson reported and wrote from Atlanta. CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin and George Howell contributed to this report.

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