Justified or murder?
Chico cops shoot parolee to death for allegedly ramming officer’s car
Community activist Willie Hyman says last week’s fatal shooting by police of an unarmed parole violator in a quiet Chico neighborhood was a murderous hate crime perpetrated by a police force laced with racism.
The cops and the district attorney say the shooting was justified because the suspect, 26-year-old Lavell Terran Proctor, was trying to drive a stolen Chevy Blazer over the top of an unmarked police cruiser driven by Sgt. Linda Dye.
According to police reports, Proctor was a fugitive who’d eluded the police for several weeks before the Blazer was spotted parked in front of a house on the 2100 block of La Rocco Drive in a residential neighborhood just east of where Forest Avenue fronts Wal-Mart, Wittmeier Auto and Butte College’s Chico Center.
Police said they wanted Proctor in connection with a strong-arm robbery and considered him armed and dangerous. He’d recently been paroled from state prison in connection with his convictions on assault and burglary charges in 2001. Court records also show a number of traffic violations that were either dismissed or to which he pled no contest.
On June 3, Chico cops set up a perimeter around the house on Rocco Drive and waited for Proctor to emerge, which he did at about 2:30 p.m.
District Attorney Mike Ramsey said he’s learned that Proctor and a woman who may have lived in the house with her boyfriend walked toward the Blazer with Proctor.
Chico Police Officer Carlos Jauregui was in his cruiser and waited while Proctor got into the driver’s seat of the SUV. As soon as he did, Jauregui moved forward to try to cut Proctor off and keep him from running. But he was unable to do so, and Proctor pulled away from the curb, around a white pickup truck parked in front of his vehicle and directly into Dye’s unmarked Dodge Intrepid. Dye was waiting in the south lane but headed west.
After the collision, Jauregui exited his vehicle, Ramsey said, with his gun drawn and yelled at Proctor to stop. But the squealing of the SUV’s tires and the roar of its engine may have drowned out the order.
“Officer Jauregui told us he had three options,” Ramsey said earlier this week. “He could do nothing, which really wasn’t an option. He could try to open the door and use his Taser; or he could use his gun.”
Jauregui opted for the third option and from about 10 feet away fired 10 shots through the vehicle’s tinted driver’s window. Two shots struck Proctor, including one that entered his left temple and exited the other side, most likely killing him instantly. The other shot hit him in the hand.
Jauregui told investigators that, after he’d emptied his clip, the Blazer’s engine continued to rev and he began to retreat to the rear of the vehicle, unsure if he’d hit the suspect. Other officers, who had now joined the effort, knocked out the Blazer’s back window, saw that Proctor, who was still sitting upright, was alone and proceeded to handcuff him and throw him into the street, where he was pronounced dead. By this time Dye had exited her vehicle.
Hyman held a press conference on Monday, June 6, to announce he wanted justice and was looking into taking legal action against the cops and the city. Hyman said he had met with Chico Police Lt. John Carrillo a week or so before the shooting and Carrillo asked Hyman for help in getting Proctor to turn himself in to the police. Hyman said he agreed to help get the word out in the community to urge Proctor to surrender.
Hyman blamed Proctor’s death in part on what he called the increase in police aggression ordered by Chief Bruce Hagerty to reduce the crime in Chico.
“What has happened? A young man got murdered,” Hyman charged.
Attending the conference was Pamela Dubois, who said she had raised Proctor after his parents had died about 15 years ago.
Hyman said because Dubois is not a blood relative she could not file a wrongful-death suit in the case, but a day later he said Proctor’s aunt, Shawn Vaughn, had been located and that she can legally file suit. He said he has been in contact with the California Department of Justice, which is investigating the incident.
“The excuse the cops always use is this, ram a car and you are trying to run an officer down and that justifies them shooting,” Hyman said.
Neighbor Jeanette Tinagero said she was working in her front yard that day and noticed the Blazer parked in front of her next-door neighbor’s house. She said she went into her house and about 30 minutes later heard a screech of tires, the sound of crashing vehicles followed by at least three shots fired from a gun.
“Then it was really quiet, and I thought I’d better stay inside,” said the white-haired Tinagero.
When she finally did venture out, she was ordered to get back into the house, as her front yard was suddenly part of a crime scene. She said some of the neighbors felt bad because Proctor’s body remained in the street for hours; at one point his clothes were removed.
She said she’d never seen the Blazer at the neighbors’ before, but police said Proctor had borrowed the SUV from an acquaintance, who a few days later reported it stolen.
Ramsey said authorities are still trying to locate the woman who was with Proctor when he emerged from the house.
Interviewed by phone on June 7, Hyman said that he had spoken with the woman, who told him that Dye had driven her vehicle into the Blazer and then Jauregui began shooting.
Ramsey described Proctor as a thug who had led police on chases before, heading into residential neighborhoods knowing the cops would back off. Ramsey said Proctor called himself “Rico Suave.”
Pamela Dubois described Proctor as an articulate, handsome and athletic young man and said she had last talked with him about a month ago. He told her at that time, she said, that the cops were going kill him.
Dye received some injuries from the incident and was reportedly recovering at home. Ramsey said he had spoken with her the night of shooting and that “she was coming down off the adrenalin and starting to feel the pain and stiffness.”
Police Capt. John Rucker described Jauregui, who is on paid administrative leave pending completion of an investigation, as a veteran cop who has 10 years’ experience, the last three in Chico.
“He’s OK,” Rucker said. “But you know this is a profound experience. He’s a good man.”