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The mental patient who was shot and killed by a Frio County, Texas sheriff's deputy Monday was not handcuffed at the time he was being transported.

News 4 has learned that state law says a mental patient does not have to be restrained unless a doctor orders law enforcement to do so.

Deputy Roger Salinas left Pearsall Monday afternoon and was taking 19-year-old Andres Gutierrez to Laurel Ridge Hospital. The two were traveling along IH-35 near Fisher Road, just south of Loop 410 when the shooting happened.

Gutierrez was sitting in the front passenger seat, unrestrained when he allegedly started violently punching Deputy Salinas in the face, nearly knocking him unconscious. Deputy Salinas was able to pull his weapon and fire. Gutierrez was hit and died at the scene.

Monday wasn't the first time the Frio County Sheriff's Department had transported Gutierrez. In March of 2007, Gutierrez was driven to San Antonio in the same manner, and the deputy who drove him had no problems.

"Past history indicates he was not violent, not aggressive, not combative, and that's why he was sitting in the front seat," said Frio County Sheriff Lionel Trevino.

The Frio County Sheriff's Department is looking into changing its procedures after what happened Monday. Sheriff Trevino told News 4 he can't change what the state requires of them, but he is considering hiring an officer who is more familiar with dealing with mental patients.

"We're going to have to sit down and talk about it," explained Sheriff Trevino. "Because we don't have a mental health officer that deals with people who are mentally impaired."

Deputy Salinas was released from the hospital Monday night. News 4 was told one of his eyes is still swollen shut. It's unknown when he'll return to work.WAOI
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