On January 9, exactly one month after Joshua Feast was killed by officer Jose Santos in La Marque, Texas, over 100 people turned out to march on La Marque City Hall to let officials know that Feast’s murder will not be forgotten.
The march was led by Feast’s mother, LaKeisha Feast, who described her son as “a loving, caring and God-fearing man, who leaves behind two amazing children whom he loved dearly.”
The Black and other working-class communities of La Marque have been protesting every weekend for the past month to demand the immediate firing and prosecution of Santos.
Body camera footage clearly shows Santos shooting Feast in the back. But despite the evidence and people’s demands, Santos has only been placed on administrative leave while the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office conducts an investigation.
A brutal killing by police rocks La Marque
While driving around on the night of December 9, at around 11:10 PM, Santos spotted Feast. Santos called out Feast’s name, prompting Feast to run the other direction. Within seconds, Santos pulled out his gun and shot Feast in the back.
According to eyewitness accounts, after Feast had been shot and was lying on the ground bleeding, Santos began yelling at him, “Put your hands where I can see them!”
Feast lay dying as Santos continued yelling, “Show me your hands.”
Feast responded, “Help me, help me, help me.”
Instead of rendering first aid, Santos held Feast at gunpoint while yelling at neighbors to stay away. Witnesses report that Santos kicked at Feast’s body.
An independent autopsy commissioned by the Feast family confirmed witness accounts that Feast died from a single gunshot wound to the back. The bullet, which never exited his body, caused such an immense loss of blood that by the time Feast reached the hospital, he was already dead.
According to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office, Santos “approached Feast because he was wanted on a warrant for being a felon in possession of a gun.” It is unclear whether or not Feast actually had a gun, but it became crystal clear through the police account of the killing that Galveston County Sheriff’s Office and Santos have both decided that a rumor of a felon with a gun is a crime deserving of being shot down in the street. This is not to mention the racist practice of depriving felons of rights in the United States, from voting to gun ownership.
Patterns of brutality, racism, and false statements
There is reason to believe the Sheriff’s office cannot be trusted to conduct an impartial investigation. From the start, investigators from the Sheriff’s office have made false claims about the killing.
“What the video does not show is what was depicted in the story told to CBS News by Sheriff Trochessett, the head of the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office investigation. Sheriff Trochessett, when interviewed by the media two days after the shooting, stated that his investigators told him the video (which he said he had not seen at the time) showed Joshua Feast pointing a gun at Jose Santos before Santos shot and killed him. He also stated that investigators told him that Feast was running towards the officers before turning and running away”Feast family attorney Ben Crump (NewsOne).
However, when the footage was released on December 21, it showed the opposite. Feast was running away as he was gunned down.
Santos used to be an officer with the Galveston Police Department. He has a record of brutal and degrading behavior against Black men. In 2013, he and another Galveston officer were accused of severely beating up and torturing Reginald Deon Davis, a Black man. Davis, who was sleeping in his car, ran toward a nearby beach when police approached him. Jose Santos and other officers tased and tackled, and then punched, kicked and beat Davis. Santos, who had pinned Davis on the beach, held his head underwater as waves crashed on the beach.
Santos and other officers were accused of unlawfully detaining and beating Davis in a lawsuit. Videos from police dash cameras clearly show Santos and other officers assaulting, abusing, and attempting to drown Davis.
Despite this, Galveston Police Chief Henry Poretto said that the officers had not used excessive force, citing an internal police investigation that had been completed before Reginald Davis filed his lawsuit. Poretto, in an attempt to justify the brutal beating and criminalize Davis, said that Davis was a multiple drug offender, and that he had “grabbed something from the seat of the car and put it in his pocket before fleeing.”
After this incident and the filing of Davis’s lawsuit, Santos resigned from the Galveston Police Department before becoming an officer in La Marque.
La Marque demands “Santos gotta go!”
Even during a pandemic and in the midst of rising right-wing violence nationally, La Marque communities are still demanding justice.
The Black Lives Matter Galveston County Movement called the latest demonstration on January 9, marching to La Marque City Hall. Joining them were Civil Rights attorney Benjamin Crump, U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, and George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd.
Protestors chanted, “Santos gotta go,” “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now,” “No justice, no peace. No crooked police!” and “Say it loud: I’m Black and I’m proud!”
About halfway to their destination, marchers stopped on Pirtle Street where Santos had gunned down Feast. The crowd raised their fists in the air and chanted, “Say his name! Joshua Feast!”
Once the protest reached City Hall, attorney Ben Crump drew the crowd’s attention to the violent attack on the United States Capitol carried out by a fascist mob days earlier. He highlighted the stark difference between the police response to violent white supremacists and police treatment of Black people in everyday encounters.
“[The police] shoot us in the back, and they don’t shoot white people ever,” said Crump. “Joshua Feast was running away. He was posing no threat to that officer when he shot him. Jacob Blake Jr. in Kenosha, Wisconsin was running away. He wasn’t posing no threat to that officer when they shot him. Laquan McDonald in Chicago, Illinois was running away from the police when they shot him in the back. He was posing no threat. Walter Scott in Columbia, South Carolina was running away when the police shot him in the back. He was posing no threat. Stephon Clark in Sacramento, California was running away when the police shot him in the back. He was posing no threat. Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma was running away when the police shot him in the back. He was posing no threat. Brothers and sisters, if we don’t stand for justice for Joshua Feast, will it be your son or daughter next they shoot in the back while they’re running away? So I say to Mayor Bell, I say to City Manager Tink Jackson, Santos gotta go to jail!”
While the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office’s investigation drags on, the community of La Marque will not rest until justice is brought to the Feast family. Through sustained protests, they have let city and county officials know that they will not allow this injustice to be forgotten.
Justice for Joshua Feast and all victims of racist police terror. Santos gotta go!
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Santos as a current employee of Galveston PD and also implied that the GPD, not the GSO, was investigating the shooting of Feast. We regret these errors.