LUBBOCK, Texas — A Lubbock family is asking city homicide investigators for answers after no criminal investigation has been brought yet in the death of their relative to gun violence Friday.
Christopher Mendez, 45, was a lifelong Lubbock resident and a father, brother and grandfather. After an altercation with another family member September 21, he died from his injuries after 16 days in a coma on October 8.
“Everybody loved him, and he showed his love to each and every person his own way,” Sophia Hernandez, Mr. Mendez’s sister, said. “He was goofy. He was always making people laugh… All my kids loved him, and they don’t have that anymore.”
The police report explains Mr. Mendez pursued his relative, Arthur Pinion, with a “metal pole” during a dispute. Pinion then shot Mendez and fled the scene. The initial investigation consequentially listed Mendez as the suspect and Pinion as the victim in an aggravated assault case. After Mr. Mendez’s death, however, his family questions that determination and has asked investigators for more information on why Mr. Pinion was never questioned by police.
“There’s no charges that have been pressed. Like, why?” Mrs. Hernandez said. “He used his gun. Why? There’s nothing [Mendez] could have done with that pole that [Pinion] could have done with that gun… he shot him in the back three times, not just once, outside… Why wouldn’t they [have] anything on him? We’re not trying to say that my brother was in the right either, but this didn’t have to happen. It didn’t have to happen like this.”
LPD would not comment on the record on this specific case due to ongoing investigations, but they explained that homicide cases are often unclear in their initial investigation. Especially when there is no video evidence, and one party claims self-defense. Investigations take time and often a grand jury opinion.
“It’s an emotional event whenever someone loses a loved one. Unfortunately, we can’t side with one party or the other. We just gather the facts and present them. That’s our job,” Lt. Leath McClure said. “A lot of the self-defense cases that are not obvious murders at the time, they’ll go to court and put in front of a grand jury. That’s 12 citizens of Lubbock, and they look at the facts, and they determine whether that was justified.”
Ms. Hernandez and her family expressed frustration in attempting to learn information from the case investigator and are urging further investigation into whether Pinion’s use of deadly force was justified.
“The day [the investigator] called… he wanted to talk to my brother. And there was no way of talking to him. He was out. They had him in a coma. He had a tube in his throat,” Mrs. Hernandez said. “I want something done… I’m not saying they don’t have other cases, but right now, my brother is not here. This needs to be one of [the investigator’s] priorities.”
“There’s always cases where things can come up after the fact,” Lt. McClure said. “Any other evidence we find or leads that we gather… we’ll submit that information to the district attorney’s office as well… We just have to present the facts and let the criminal justice system do its job.”
Mr. Mendez’s daughter, Bianca Mendez, hopes her message to a community facing more than two dozen gun violence cases this year will learn from their experience.
“Just walk away,” Ms. Mendez said. “I hate gun violence, and Lubbock is so bad with gun violence right now. Just walk away.”
To raise money for Mr. Mendez’s funeral, his family is selling food plates and asking for assistance through GoFundMe.
“I’m selling tamales. We’re making plates,” Mrs. Hernandez said. “Right now, that’s all we have… all this money we’re going to try to raise is going to go all to the funeral arrangements… we don’t have money like that.”