An off-duty Arlington police officer under investigation in the fatal shooting of a man in a Duncanville restaurant parking lot told officials he acted in self-defense, according to his attorney.
But relatives of the slain man say the officer had been drinking during the birthday party and caused the violence to escalate after a relative tried to break up a fight that led to the shooting.
Sgt. Thedrick Andres remains on administrative leave from the Arlington Police Department while detectives with the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department investigate the June 22 fatal shooting of Juan May, 45.
Both men traveled that night aboard a party bus with about 20 other people, according to authorities.
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Andres’ attorney, Christopher Livingston, said Andres was injured during the bus ride and was afraid he might suffer further injury.
“Thedrick said he was in fear of his life and acted in self-defense,” Livingston said.
Livingston declined to say why his client felt threatened.
Jindia Blount, Juan May’s sister, said in a phone interview Monday that the tension aboard the bus was triggered by one of her relatives suggesting that Andres dance on a pole that reached from the floor of the bus to its ceiling. Andres reacted angrily and aimed several derogatory remarks at the relative, Blount said.
“He had been dancing all night,” Blount said. “But that’s when the tension got really thick.”
Once the bus returned to the party-goers’ meeting place — the parking lot at Pappadeaux’s Seafood Kitchen, 800 E. U.S. 67 in Duncanville — Blount said, she saw Andres walk up to her brother and speak, and the two started fighting.
Patrick May, a cousin of Blount and Juan May, tried to separate the men, and for a moment, there was a pause. But then Andres hit Patrick May, Blount said. Suddenly, all three men were fighting, Blount said.
“There were several other men watching this, and no one tried to break it up,” Blount said. “Patrick tried to stop the fight, and Thedrick hit him.”
But then, Blount said, Juan May walked toward his vehicle and Andres was running toward his car. Someone yelled out, “He’s got a gun in his car,” Blount said.
When Juan May heard that, he turned and ran toward Andres, Blount said. Blount said she believes that her brother was trying to stop Andres from reaching his car and drawing his weapon.
“But he was too late,” Blount said. “Andres reached down and got his gun out of his car and turned and shot my brother.”
Blount and her cousins did not know that Andres is a police officer, Blount said.
Sheriff’s investigators have not released any details of their investigation. A Dallas County official said she expected the investigation to be complete within three to six months.
Andres has been with the Arlington police for eight years and is assigned to the criminal investigations unit. Arlington police are conducting an administrative investigation of the officer, said Sgt. Jeffrey Houston, a police spokesman.
“He’s on administrative leave right now but I think he will be back on duty shortly,” Livingston said.