Videos shows Modesto police shooting that killed Paul Chavez Jr.; family to file lawsuit

Attorneys representing family members of a man shot dead by Modesto police earlier this month released video footage Tuesday of the shooting and said they are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit. Hours later, Modesto police released 911 call audio, officer body camera footage and surveillance video that also showed the shooting and identified the officers involved. Paul Chavez Jr., 30, was killed on July 14 after a family member had called police claiming he was intoxicated and causing a disturbance, according to the accounts by his family attorney and police. 911 audio that police released indicated that Chavez’s father-in-law had warned that Chavez was “threatening my life” and doing property damage to his home by ripping his screen door.In a second 911 call, the caller said Chavez had a tow hitch , which the father-in-law described as a “weapon.” A 59-second video released by the family’s attorneys starts about 1 second before Chavez is shot. It shows two officers standing near Chavez on a lawn, one pointing a handgun at him and the other a stun gun. Chavez, who is holding an object in his right hand, appears to take two steps in the direction of the officers and both fire. The video then shows blood coming out of a wound on Chavez’s chest. He stumbles out of frame before next being seen on the ground with three officers nearby. A woman can be heard screaming in the background. The video footage does not show what happened leading up to the final moments before officers shot Chavez.But the video footage released by Modesto police shows what was happening when officers first arrived.Officer Sam Muncy, a nine-year veteran of the department, and Officer Sergio Valencia, a four-year veteran, arrived before a third officer. Their body-worn camera footage shows that Muncy was armed with a gun and Valencia a Taser. The footage showed the officers call more than 10 times for Chavez to put down the tow hitch after encountering him sitting outside on a lawn. He then stands up and faces the officers. “You’re going to get Tased,” one of the officers repeated several times. The video showed that Officer Valencia fired his Taser first. After being hit by the stun gun, Chavez removed the prongs.He continued walking about six steps after being Tased before Officer Muncy shot him. According to Burris’ account, Chavez had been talking to himself and wandering on his neighbor’s lawn when police arrived. He was holding the tow hitch in a “non-threatening manner” when one of the officers had shouted for him to drop it. Burris said that as Chavez attempted to comply, “he was inexplicably tased by an officer and simultaneously, without warning, shot twice by another officer, striking him in the left arm and upper left side.”“Seeing the video is shocking, but worse is the realization that it was both egregious and avoidable,” Burris said in a statement. “The police were called to protect the family, but because they failed to communicate, lacked patience, or worse yet, lack of respect for lives in this community, they destroyed the lives of the people they were called to protect. Being under the influence is not a death warrant. The killing of Mr Chavez was unreasonable and unnecessary. The shooting officer’s conduct was so outrageous that he should be criminally prosecuted for murder or manslaughter by the local District Attorney or the State Attorney General.”Ben Nisenbaum, another attorney at Burris’ law firm, said the video showed that “the officers had plenty of safe room to move and step back from Mr. Chavez and deescalate the situation.”Chavez was a father of three minor children, the family’s attorneys said.”The Modesto Police Department recognizes and respects the value of all human life. Officer-involved shootings are a tragic event for everyone, our office, the community and the family members of those involved,” Modesto Police Chief Brandon Gillespie said in a statement. He said that California’s Department of Justice determined that the shooting did not qualify for an investigation involving the death of an unarmed civilian by police. Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while Modesto police continue their criminal and administrative investigation. The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office is doing its own independent review of the shooting. “Regarding the lawsuit, the Modesto Police Department does not comment on pending litigation,” police said.

Attorneys representing family members of a man shot dead by Modesto police earlier this month released video footage Tuesday of the shooting and said they are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Hours later, Modesto police released 911 call audio, officer body camera footage and surveillance video that also showed the shooting and identified the officers involved.

Paul Chavez Jr., 30, was killed on July 14 after a family member had called police claiming he was intoxicated and causing a disturbance, according to the accounts by his family attorney and police.

911 audio that police released indicated that Chavez’s father-in-law had warned that Chavez was “threatening my life” and doing property damage to his home by ripping his screen door.

In a second 911 call, the caller said Chavez had a tow hitch, which the father-in-law described as a “weapon.”

A 59-second video released by the family’s attorneys starts about 1 second before Chavez is shot. It shows two officers standing near Chavez on a lawn, one pointing a handgun at him and the other a stun gun. Chavez, who is holding an object in his right hand, appears to take two steps in the direction of the officers and both fire. The video then shows blood coming out of a wound on Chavez’s chest. He stumbles out of frame before next being seen on the ground with three officers nearby. A woman can be heard screaming in the background.

Law Office of John Burris

The video footage does not show what happened leading up to the final moments before officers shot Chavez.

But the video footage released by Modesto police shows what was happening when officers first arrived.

Officer Sam Muncy, a nine-year veteran of the department, and Officer Sergio Valencia, a four-year veteran, arrived before a third officer.

Their body-worn camera footage shows that Muncy was armed with a gun and Valencia a Taser.

The footage showed the officers call more than 10 times for Chavez to put down the tow hitch after encountering him sitting outside on a lawn. He then stands up and faces the officers.

“You’re going to get Tased,” one of the officers repeated several times.

The video showed that Officer Valencia fired his Taser first. After being hit by the stun gun, Chavez removed the prongs.

He continued walking about six steps after being Tased before Officer Muncy shot him.

According to Burris’ account, Chavez had been talking to himself and wandering on his neighbor’s lawn when police arrived. He was holding the tow hitch in a “non-threatening manner” when one of the officers had shouted for him to drop it.

Burris said that as Chavez attempted to comply, “he was inexplicably tased by an officer and simultaneously, without warning, shot twice by another officer, striking him in the left arm and upper left side.”

“Seeing the video is shocking, but worse is the realization that it was both egregious and avoidable,” Burris said in a statement. “The police were called to protect the family, but because they failed to communicate, lacked patience, or worse yet, lack of respect for lives in this community, they destroyed the lives of the people they were called to protect. Being under the influence is not a death warrant. The killing of Mr Chavez was unreasonable and unnecessary. The shooting officer’s conduct was so outrageous that he should be criminally prosecuted for murder or manslaughter by the local District Attorney or the State Attorney General.”

Ben Nisenbaum, another attorney at Burris’ law firm, said the video showed that “the officers had plenty of safe room to move and step back from Mr. Chavez and deescalate the situation.”

Chavez was a father of three minor children, the family’s attorneys said.

Paul Chavez Jr.

“The Modesto Police Department recognizes and respects the value of all human life. Officer-involved shootings are a tragic event for everyone, our office, the community and the family members of those involved,” Modesto Police Chief Brandon Gillespie said in a statement.

He said that California’s Department of Justice determined that the shooting did not qualify for an investigation involving the death of an unarmed civilian by police.

Both officers have been placed on administrative leave while Modesto police continue their criminal and administrative investigation. The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office is doing its own independent review of the shooting.

“Regarding the lawsuit, the Modesto Police Department does not comment on pending litigation,” police said.

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