Stanislaus DA says no charges against Modesto officer in shooting

Paul Chavez was killed by a Modesto officer the evening of July 14. The district attorney’s office says he was armed with a trailer hitch and ignored commands.

MODESTO, Calif. — It’s been nearly five months since Modesto man Paul Chavez was shot and killed by police, and the district attorney said Monday she would not be seeking charges against the officer.

The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office revealed new details in its release to Modesto Police Chief Brandon Gillespie.

It all began July 14 around 5:40 pm at a home on Entrada Way. The person who called 911 said his son-in-law, Paul Chavez, was drunk and threatening his life.

The caller said his wife was picking up pizza, and he was concerned about what would happen if Chavez was still outside when she got back, and that Chavez was trying to rip off the screen door to get inside.

The district attorney’s office says a check of the pair’s prior history showed a pattern of Chavez getting drunk and trying to fight in the weeks leading up to the deadly shooting.

Police received another 911 saying Chavez walked away from the home but now had part of a trailer hitch.

Officers got to the scene and were told by the caller that Chavez was now farther up the street. He was seen walking across a neighbor’s yard – tow hitch in hand – toward his mother-in-law.

One of the officers stood between Chavez and the two and warned him he would be Tased if he didn’t stop. He was Tased twice; both charges didn’t subdue him.

The district attorney’s office says a second officer was concerned Chavez was now close to the first officer and still armed. He fired twice at Chavez, who dropped the trailer hitch and collapsed—later dying from his injuries.

During an investigation, a neighbor reported hearing police giving Chavez verbal commands and that he did not comply. Chavez’s mother-in-law also confirmed that information.

An autopsy found Chavez had a BAC of .26% at his time of death.

Attorney John Burris, who is representing Chavez’s family, filed a lawsuit against the City of Modesto in late July.

“He wasn’t threatening the officers. He wasn’t threatening anyone, and he was intoxicated – that within itself should have caused the officers to understand that there’s a way to deal with this and de-escalation without having to use deadly force,” he said.

ABC10 reached out to Burris, who said he was “not surprised” by the outcome.

“As the family lawyer in a Federal civil rights lawsuit filed against the officers and the Modesto Police Department, I and the family strongly disagree with the District Attorney decision,” Burris said in a statement to ABC10. “These officers created a confrontation with Mr. Chavez who knew they was intoxicated and not fully capable of comprehending their demands when they could have exercised more caution. The DA concluded that officers acted reasonably but the question was it necessary as indicated by the new law signed in 2020. By creating a confrontation and failing to deescalate, the shooting was unnecessary. These officers should be criminally prosecuted. The DA gave these officers a pass largely because Mr. Chavez was intoxicated. The family strongly disagrees with the decision.”

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