Law firm says fatal shooting of Fontana man by Rialto P.D. was not justified | News

A law firm held a press conference in Rialto on Jan. 18 to support the family of Fontana resident Christopher Valadez, who was shot to death by a Rialto Police Department officer during an incident last year.

Family members are claiming that the shooting was unjustified and that the officer should be prosecuted for his actions.

During the press conference, the Law Offices of Humberto Guitar publicly released what was described as a new video showing part of the incident in which Valadez, 23, was stopped for an alleged traffic violation and then got into an altercation with police before trying to get away.

“On Oct. 22, 2021, Christopher Valadez was shot multiple times by Rialto Police officer Michael Babineaux when he was attempting to drive away,” said attorney Christian Contreras in a news release. “He was not posing any threat of death to anyone as officer Babineaux opened fire on him.”

However, the Rialto P.D. released a statement on Jan. 18 which said:

“The basic facts are that the suspect refused to obey several officers’ commands; the suspect attempted to flee the scene using his vehicle; and the suspect using his vehicle as a weapon accelerated towards another officer who took action to protect himself by shooting the suspect.”

—– ON THE DAY of the incident, the Rialto P.D. issued a press release which said an officer conducted a traffic stop of a Chevrolet pickup truck in the 100 block of N. Encina Avenue at about 12:29 a.m.

During the initial contact, the driver got out of the vehicle, allegedly ignored the officer’s commands to stop and fled on foot as the officer attempted to detain him, police said.

The suspect refused to comply with the officer’s commands and allegedly physically resisted as he returned to the truck. The suspect started the truck and a struggle continued as the officer attempted to take the suspect into custody, police said.

A second Rialto Police officer arrived to assist as the primary officer was struggling to take the suspect into custody at the open driver’s door, police said. The suspect allegedly began driving away as the primary officer was still struggling with the suspect, police said.

The primary officer was able to break free from the vehicle, avoiding injury, at which time the suspect allegedly used the truck as a weapon, attempting to hit the officers, police said. An officer fired several shots and the suspect was struck by gunfire. The truck continued traveling over a chain link fence and collided into a house. No one was injured inside the home, but the house was damaged.

Valadez was unarmed at the time of the incident.

Officers rendered medical aid to Valadez and he was subsequently transported to a local trauma center, where he later died.

—– FOLLOWING standard procedure, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office are conducting an investigation of the incident, which could take several more months to complete.

“In the aftermath of the incident on October 22, 2021, we understand that edited bystander video and edited officer body worn camera footage was publicly posted, released on several social media platforms and the news media. The edited footage does not show the full incident,” the Rialto P.D. said on Jan. 18.

“The City of Rialto’s Police Department will limit comments to these basic facts until conclusions are finalized by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. The full context of the incident will be made available to the news media and the public upon review by the Rialto City Council.”

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