Jury in coroner's inquest says unarmed Richmond man intentionally shot by officer

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Thursday, December 11, 2014
The family of an unarmed Richmond man question the accuracy of the officer's testimony who killed their son.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- The family of a young Richmond man shot and killed by a police officer heard the testimony face to face on Wednesday at a coroner's inquest.

Police say Richard Perez was going for the officer's gun, but Perez's family says that is not the case.

"We definitely dispute that he was reaching for his gun and that there was a basis to shoot him at the time," said John Burris.

Burris represents the family of Richard Perez, the 24-year-old who was shot and killed by Officer Wallace Jensen.

The shooting occurred in front of a liquor store at Cutting Boulevard in mid-September. Officer Jensen encountered Perez inside the store. The clerk told him Perez was drunk and disorderly. A scuffle ensued outside, as Jensen was checking Perez's records.

It ended with the fatal shooting.

As expected, the jury in the coroner's inquest concluded that Perez was shot, not by accident, but intentionally by Officer Jensen.

What Burris and the Perez family question is the accuracy of the officer's testimony on how the shooting went down.

Jensen was the star witness at Wednesday morning's hearing. He says Perez was drunk and yelling profanities when he told him to sit down outside the store. He says Perez got up to leave. That's when the struggle began.

Hearing officer Matt Guichard presented the evidence at the inquest. He recounts Jensen's testimony.

"He was tugging at the officer's gun and the officer eventually got up, got a little separation, came very close and pulled his gun out and had it close. Mr Perez lunged at him. He fired. He came at him again. He fired two more times," said Guichard.

Two of the three shots were fatal. Guichard says a store video show the struggle but not the shooting.

"It's one sided. It's like they're all hiding something," said Richard Perez's father.

A coroner's inquest does not allow cross examination of witnesses. Nor does it make any conclusions about whether the shooting was justifiable. Burris says all of that will come when he sues the City of Richmond and Officer Jensen.