- By Roberto Villalpando
- Johnathan Silver American-Statesman Staff
Lawyers for a couple arrested after a Caldwell County sheriff’s deputy was wounded early Friday outside their home say the shooting was a case of mistaken identity and “classic self-defense,” and that the deputy never identified himself until after he was shot.
The Caldwell County sheriff’s office on Friday said the deputy was seriously wounded by gunfire while responding around midnight to a call about a theft at a home on Hidden Oak Road just outside of Dale, an unincorporated community about 25 miles southeast of Austin. The deputy, whose name has not been released, was taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery, and was in stable condition, authorities said.
Two residents of the home, 33-year-old Edwardo Padilla and 54-year-old Kimberly Ashford Moore — who lived there with her two grandchildren and her mother — both face felony charges of aggravated assault on a public servant and deadly conduct with a firearm, said Richard Banks, who along with his wife, Leslie, is representing the pair.
“The pair will plead not guilty and self-defense,” said Banks, a longtime criminal defense attorney who also once served as a federal prosecutor. “They did not know the unannounced trespasser shining a flashlight into their house at night was a cop and were in fear for their lives.”
According to Banks, squatters had taken shelter in a home across the street and had made death threats against the couple after they helped the property owner try to get the squatters evicted. On the night of the shooting, the couple believed that one of the squatters was on their property, Banks said.
The Caldwell County sheriff’s office initially said shortly after the shooting that “deputies responded (to a call for service) and took fire,” but Banks said his investigative sources tell him that only the deputy responded and that he fired his weapon first.
He declined to speculate on other details of the shooting, saying only that “ballistics will show which weapon the projectiles came from.”
Banks said the deputy, who was wounded in the hand and shoulder, failed to turn on his emergency lights when he arrived at the house and never announced that he was a deputy until after the shooting.
“They thought there was a prowler on the premises,” he said. “It was someone trespassing on their property as far as they knew.”
Once they realized the “prowler” was actually a sheriff’s deputy, “they staunched his wounds and helped bring aid from the ambulance,” he said. “They did everything they could to help that officer.”
Banks said Padilla was a FedEx driver with no criminal record and Moore had previously worked for the Travis County sheriff’s office for 10 years.
Padilla and Moore remained in the Caldwell County Jail on Saturday with bail set for each of them at $1.25 million.
The Caldwell County sheriff’s office said the Texas Rangers, the investigative arm of the state’s Department of Public Safety, were looking into the case. Neither agency was able to provide more information about the case on Saturday.
The incident in Caldwell County is the third time in four months that Central Texas law enforcement officers have been struck by gunfire in the line of duty, including a Hays County sheriff’s deputy who was wounded Nov. 24 while responding to a reported burglary near Wimberley and a San Marcos police officer fatally shot Dec. 4 while serving a warrant.
Authorities in those cases have described the shootings as ambushes.
“That is absolutely not the situation here,” Banks said of the Caldwell County shooting. “Any suggestion that this was an ambush is unfounded.”