Family members describe slain Alto man as a 'good person'

Patsy Hackney
Patsy Hackney
Cedric Riggie
Cedric Riggie

ALTO, TX (KTRE) - Family members of the 48-year-old Alto man who was killed in a police officer-involved shooting Wednesday reacted with a mixture of disbelief and grief Thursday.

James Eric Griffin was fatally shot by Alto Police officer Brandon Michael Smith. A Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman said that Griffin attempted to rob the pick N' Go convenience store located at 100 S, Marcus Street in downtown Alto. Smith confronted Griffin on Highway 69, where an exchange took place.

Patsy Hackney could barely hold back tears as she spoke about her cousin Eric, or 'Tragic," with fondness.

"It's tearing me up because it's a loss to our family," Hackney said. "It's hard to believe that he would do anything wrong to make someone shoot him down like a dog, I'll say. I just can't believe it. I mean his character - it's just not his character. He's just quiet. I just can't believe it."

During the day Thursday, Griffin's family hung out near the Pic N' Go. They shared his story with everyone that came that way.

"It's hard because Eric was a good person," Hackney said. "He didn't bother anybody you know? He stayed to himself. He was a loner. He didn't bother anybody."

Cedric Riggie said his cousin suffered from a mental illness and had not taken his medicine the day he died. He said Griffin did have a machete with him when he went to go get cigarettes from the Pic N' Go., but that he didn't mean any harm by it.

"Everybody who knew Tragic in Alto knew that he was a good person," Riggie said. "I mean he did what he did, but he never bothered anybody. You know? He always stayed to himself, and if he could help you, he would."

Hackney said that Griffin's family members are good, church-going people that would help anyone that needed help. She said the loss of Griffin is devastating.

"It's a loss you know to this town because he was a good guy, and I just ... I just don't think he ... I can't believe that he would do anything to cause that you know what I'm saying?" Hackney said.

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