Modesto Police Release Bodycam Footage Of Deadly Shooting During Family Disturbance
The Modesto Police Department released body camera footage Tuesday of a deadly shooting just hours after the family of the man involved announced legal action.
Police officers confronted Paul Chavez Jr. in front of a home on Entrada Way back on the evening of July 14 during a family disturbance. Chavez’s father-in-law was the one who called the police.
“There’s a drunk man at my door threatening my life,” Chavez said on the 911 call. “He’s my son-in-law. He’s drunk. I’m getting my gun. If he comes in my door, do I get a chance to shoot him?”
Modesto police said officers Sam Munsey and Sergio Valencia arrived to find Chavez holding a tow hitch, and they ordered him to drop it.
“Put that down or you’re going to get tased,” one officer can be heard saying in the video.
Officers tried using a taser on Chavez, then seconds later, they fired several shots at him.
Chavez fell into the landscaping after being shot. He was taken to an area hospital where he later died.
“It’s kind of scary to think PD can shoot in any direction without thinking of family, children, animals,” said Krystal Ewalt.
Chavez was shot on Ewalt’s front lawn and her surveillance camera captured the incident.
“There was a better way to handle it. I don’t think shooting him was the right choice,” Ewalt said.
We showed the video to former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness to ask if the police officers could have handled the situation differently.
“I believe that it would be in the realm of reasonableness to apply a second taser. That may have worked,” McGinness said. “Retreating to some extent may have worked, but again, it’s so important to get the officers’ state of mind on this.”
The former sheriff said that is the piece of the puzzle investigators will be looking for: were the officers justified in fearing for their lives?
“If he explains what he saw, that the taser didn’t work and felt he didn’t have sufficient time space and distance in order to safely apply the taser, then I think it presents defensible course of action,” McGinness said.
Chavez’s family said they filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, claiming the officers’ actions were unacceptable.
“It is sad. I feel bad for the family. This house Is always going to be a trigger the rest of their lives, unfortunately,” Ewalt said.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office is investigating this incident, and as of now, the two officers involved are on leave.