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El Paso police, DA did not notify public of officer indicted on manslaughter charges

Mando Kenneth Gomez CBS

The CBS4 Problem Solvers are finding out why the public was not notified that an El Paso police officer has been indicted for manslaughter. As we reported, Officer Mando Gomez was indicted last February accused of shooting and killing a man in 2015. At the time, police said the man charged at Gomez, but the autopsy showed the man was shot in the back. Given the magnitude of the case, CBS4 asked police and the DA’s Office why the public was not notified. They said the information was out there all along.

"Indictments that are handed down by a grand jury are public information. That information is out there. Nobody is hiding that information,” said El Paso police spokesman Darrel Petry.

When a grand jury indicted Mando Gomez for manslaughter, it was not announced to the public or the media. Petry said the case was out of El Paso police’s hands.

"That information truly does not belong to the El Paso Police Department at that time. That information belongs to the District Attorney's Office,” Petry said. "The way the El Paso Police Department conducts investigations that involve officers who are involved in the shooting is the El Paso Police Department's Crimes Against Persons Unit conducts a criminal investigation. But they also conduct that investigation independently while the Texas Rangers are called in to assist. Then another independent investigation is conducted by the El Paso Police Department's Internal Affairs and the Shooting Review Team. All of those investigations are conducted simultaneously, but independent of each other. Criminal investigations that are conducted by the Crimes Against Persons Unit and the Texas Rangers is actually the information that is compiled and again turned over to the El Paso County District Attorney's Office."

"So just to clarify, you think that the DA's office should have released his name?" CBS4 Problem Solver Ashley Claster asked.

"No, no. You're putting words in my mouth,” Petry answered. “That's not at all what I'm saying. We do the initial press release when the incident occurs. That is to notify the public that we had an officer involved shooting. The public, I believe, trusts us to present our case to the District Attorney's Office, which we have done. Once that information is passed onto the District Attorney's Office, the criminal investigation, the case, is out of our hands at that point. And it's been completed, wrapped up and presented."

The CBS4 Problem Solvers took our questions to the DA’s Office and asked again why the public was not notified that a police officer had been indicted for manslaughter. The DA’s Office sent CBS4 the following statement: "The District Attorney's Office does not send out press releases regarding any indictment. If a document is public record, it is available to the public at the public's request."

Officer Gomez is still employed with the Police Department.

"Of course the incident happened a couple years ago. He has been on administrative duty. He is assigned to the El Paso Police Academy, and continues to remain there at this time,” Petry said.

Police said Gomez will remain employed for now.

"The case has to go the route of the criminal justice system, and that is a court. A trial. So a lot will be determined by the outcome of that,” Petry said.

Jail records show Gomez was booked into jail almost a month after he was indicted. He posted a $25,000 bond and was released the same day.

"We can't speak to the actions of the District Attorney's Office or what they're responsible for or what they do. Again, I'm just saying that our information, our case was completed and it was turned over to them,” Petry said.

Police said this is the second indictment of an officer involved in an on-duty shooting within the department.

"This indictment that came down in February, Ashley, this indictment is only the second indictment of an officer from the El Paso Police Department that was involved in an officer involved shooting that I know of,” Petry said. “Now we would have to do research to go further back. But as far as I know, this is only the second indictment that is been handed down in an officer involved shooting in El Paso."

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