Mother of 13-year-old shot by San Antonio police has other kids taken by child-welfare authorities

Lynda Espinoza's four remaining children were taken Tuesday in what one relative described as an 'ambush.'

click to enlarge The mother of the 13-year-old fatally shot by San Antonio police had her four other children taken into custody Tuesday by state child-welfare officials, her sister-in-law said. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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The mother of the 13-year-old fatally shot by San Antonio police had her four other children taken into custody Tuesday by state child-welfare officials, her sister-in-law said.
A family member of the 13-year-old boy fatally shot by a San Antonio police officer last Friday accuses the department of helping orchestrate an ambush by cops and social workers to take the four remaining children from the dead youth's mother.

However, state child-welfare officials said a court order executed Tuesday to remove the children from the care of their mother, Lynda Espinoza, predates the shooting and that they'd found it hard to reach her before now. A San Antonio Police Department spokesperson also denied the department arranged the removal.

"They're trying to spin the narrative and make it sound like it's my sister-in-law's fault that these two kids died," said Stephanie Martinez, the aunt of the slain boy and Espinoza's sister-in-law. "I know they [SAPD] has been following us. But we gotta do this. We gotta get justice."

Another of Espinoza's children, 16-year-old daughter Naveah Martinez, was found shot to death May 10 in a stolen car near the family’s home, NBC News reports.

Espinoza, the mother of 13-year-old Andre Hernandez Jr., who was shot last weekend during a reported police pursuit, received a phone call Tuesday from a Texas Department of Family Protective Services caseworker, Martinez told the Current. The call came as she wrapped up a meeting with police-accountability nonprofit Act4SA.

The caseworker requested that Espinoza meet with DFPS personnel at the McDonald's near Loop 410 and Marbach Road at around 6 p.m. that evening, according to Martinez.

"The gentleman that called said just said they wanted to see the kids and make sure they're OK," she added.

When Espinoza and her four surviving children, ages 6 to 9, arrived at the fast-food restaurant, they were surrounded by SAPD officers, Martinez alleges.

"As soon as my sister-in-law walked in with the kids, all these police vehicles just pulled up and surrounded the McDonald's," Martinez said. "They served her [papers] and said that they were taking the kids."

As of press time, the Current unable to obtain a police report of the incident. However, in an email, SAPD Information Officer Jennifer Saucedo Rodriguez said no calls for service or assistance were made to SAPD that matched the time and location of the alleged incident.

Although Saucedo Rodriguez denied SAPD personnel were involved in taking the children, at least two uniformed police officers are visible in a 45-second video of the incident Martinez shared with the Current.

Martinez, who said she arrived at the McDonald's shortly after her sister-in-law, maintains that she counted as many as nine officers in the restaurant and more outside the building.

According to Mary Walker, a DFPS media representative, Espinoza should have been made aware before the meeting that its purpose was to hand over her children. Walker also said the court order to remove the children had been filed "for some time now," but Espinoza had been hard to reach.

Walker said she didn't have immediate access to court records about why the children were removed or when the removal was ordered. At press time, the Current was still working to obtain those records from the Bexar County Clerk.

Media attention swirled around Espinoza's family after Officer Stephen Ramos fatally shot Hernandez when the 13-year-old allegedly T-boned a police cruiser early Friday morning. According to police, Ramos discharged his firearm because he worried a fellow officer was in danger of being injured.

Authorities say the youth was driving a Toyota Corolla they believe was stolen in late May. An eyewitness later told the Express-News the collision did "little to no damage" to the Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle.

On Thursday at 3:30 p.m., relatives of Hernandez and members from Act4SA will hold a rally and vigil in front of Public Safety Headquarters demanding answers about the 13-year-old's death.

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