LUBBOCK, Texas — In court on Friday, Hollis Daniels’ parents, Janis Turk Daniels and H.A. Dan Daniels said they had just been in Lubbock for Texas Tech University’s parents’ weekend less than two weeks before their son would take Texas Tech Police Department Officer Floyd East Jr.’s life.
Aside from him looking a bit underweight, both parents testified that he seemed like a typical college student, and they didn’t suspect any mental health struggles from the then 19-year-old.
“He seemed good,” Janis said. “We felt like he was on a good track.”
Then Oct. 9, 2017, came around. It would become a day that would forever be engrained in their minds.
One of Hollis’ college friends called his parents to inform them that their son had a gun and was suicidal. In court, the defense asked Janis what her level of concern was at that moment.
“Through the roof,” Janis said. “I was terrified.”
After that, Dan and Janis made numerous calls to the Texas Tech Crisis Hotline. Eventually, Dan explained that the hotline couldn’t help and connected him to a police officer.
“An officer has been shot,” Dan said the officer on the phone told him. “Your son shot him.”
Dr. Shawn Roberson is a forensic psychologist who was hired back in 2020 to evaluate Hollis. He told the court that there were two primary factors that led to his decision to shoot and kill Officer East. The first one was Xanax and intoxication at a high level, which he said is associated with aggressive behavior. Secondly, he thought Hollis’ depression made the situation a lot worse than it was.
The defense asked Dr. Roberson if Hollis had genuine suicidal thoughts.
“Yes,” Dr. Roberson said. “He most definitely wanted to end his life.”
Dr. Roberson also said that Janis in particular seemed to recognize but minimize that Hollis was depressed. He testified that she appeared to gloss over the significance of the problems that her son had in late middle school and early high school.
Years later, the defense had Dan and Janis watch the video of Hollis shooting and killing Officer East. When the defense asked Dan for reactions to that video, he took off his glasses and started crying.
“It’s a 5-year-long nightmare,” Dan said. “I saw someone on there that I did not recognize. I saw someone who was not the person I raised.”
The court recessed in the middle of Janis’ testimony just after 3 p.m. Friday afternoon. The Lubbock County Courthouse will be closed for President’s Day on Monday, but the trial will pick back up Tuesday at 8:00 a.m.