Sometimes cops gotta shoot a guy

The Chico police officer who shot and killed 24-year-old Lavell Proctor was officially exonerated by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey at a press conference held at police headquarters June 8.

Less than a week later, police shot another man, this time in a close-quarters gun battle with a suspect who fired at cops when they came to investigate a domestic disturbance.

The latest shooting occurred Monday around 2 a.m., when police responded to a 911 call indicating that Kenny Warren, who had a restraining order against him from his estranged wife, had come to her apartment on the 400 block of E. Seventh Street. When police attempted to make contact with Warren, he pulled up his shirt revealing a pistol, according to Ramsey, who is investigating the incident. Ramsey said the two cops on the scene ran for cover as Warren pulled out the weapon and began shooting, with one officer ending up in the bathtub in an adjacent bathroom and the other taking up a position in the kitchen, where he returned fire on Warren, hitting him in the chest and legs.

The situation developed into a standoff, with Warren cursing police and yelling things like, “You shot me, you bastards,” while the officers urged him to surrender, Ramsey said. Warren reportedly told the officers something to the effect of, “Come on in, you bastards, I’ve got two more magazines with me.”

At one point, Ramsey said, Warren asked the officer who had taken refuge in the kitchen to throw him a beer, as he had become extremely thirsty. The officer declined, and the standoff continued for at least three more hours, during which time a S.W.A.T. team twice attempted to use tear gas to subdue Warren. In the end, an officer was able to creep up next to a bedroom window and zap Warren with a Taser, incapacitating him. Results of the officer-involved shooting investigation are due toward the end of this week.

The latest incident was the third officer-involved shooting in Chico this year. The second happened June 3 and provoked cries of racism from some community activists, as the victim was black and unarmed.

Lavell Proctor, known to friends as “Rico Suave,” was wanted by police both for violating parole and as a possible suspect in two non-fatal Chico shootings. He was shot and killed as he attempted to escape arrest in a 1996 Chevy Blazer that he had stolen from a friend earlier in the week. Officer Carlos Jauregui, who shot Proctor, was cleared last week of any wrongdoing and, pending a medical investigation, is expected to be back on the force soon.

The press conference regarding Proctor’s shooting revealed a few new details. The scenario was described as follows: Chico police received information that Proctor was at an acquaintance’s home on La Rocca Drive in East Chico, where he was apparently playing video games with the home’s resident.

Knowing that Proctor had evaded capture in high-speed vehicle chases four times already this year, police attempted to set up a perimeter and surround the house so a S.W.A.T. team could enter and take Proctor before he could get behind the wheel. Officer Jauregui, a Chico cop since 2002 and a former Colusa County sheriff’s deputy, was ordered to survey the situation from his patrol car.

Chico Police Sgt. Linda Dye, in plain clothes and driving an unmarked blue Dodge Intrepid, parked at a location about a half-block away, where she could watch the house.

But, owing to “crook luck,” as Chico Police Chief Bruce Hagerty put it, Proctor left the house before the bust could be properly planned. When Dye saw Proctor and an unidentified female walking toward the Blazer, she radioed incident commander Sgt. David Britt, who was stationed around the corner, telling him the suspect was on the move.

Britt immediately gave the order for all units to converge on Proctor. Juaregui, hearing the order, aimed his patrol car at the Blazer’s driver’s-side door in an attempt to keep Proctor from getting in. But according to Ramsey, Juaregui hesitated long enough to allow Proctor to enter the Blazer, where he then turned the ignition, put the car in gear and floored the accelerator.

Dye, who had also pointed her Intrepid toward the Blazer, was now in the middle of the street, decelerating toward the Blazer and blocking Proctor’s escape. The Blazer collided with Dye’s Intrepid and the vehicles “meshed.” Proctor reportedly continued to floor the accelerator, apparently trying to push Dye out of the way. Seeing this, Juaregui got out of his patrol car and raised his service weapon, a .40-caliber Glock semi-automatic with a 15-round magazine.

Juaregui apparently told investigators from the Officer-Involved Shooting Protocol Team (made up of investigators from various local law enforcement agencies) he believed Proctor was attempting to drive the Blazer over Dye’s Intrepid. Juaregui also told investigators he shouted at Proctor, “Police! Get out! Stop!”

“Ear- and eyewitnesses” interviewed by the team heard the words “get out,” Ramsey said. A neighbor interviewed by the CN&R told a slightly different story, indicating she did not see the accident but heard a screeching crash followed immediately by shots.

Juaregui told investigators he could not be sure if Proctor heard his command but said the suspect looked directly at him just before he fired his weapon. The time between his command and the shooting, according to Ramsey, was “less than three seconds.”

Although authorities continue to portray Proctor’s collision with Dye as a deliberate attack on a police officer, Ramsey admitted upon being questioned by reporters that it was unclear whether the collision was intentional and unknowable as to whether Proctor believed Dye was a police officer or not. (Dye was not treated for any injuries but took a short leave to recover from the accident.) What was clear, Ramsey said, was that Proctor was a danger to the public.

The use of deadly force was justified because Officer Juaregui “did his sworn duty to protect the public, specifically to protect Sgt. Dye,” Ramsey said. “[Juaregui] was firing until such time as the attack stopped or he ran out of bullets or he reassessed the situation.”

After shooting Proctor, Juaregui retreated to a defensive position. Backup officers arrived almost immediately and heard the Blazer’s engine slow to an idle, at which point Dye exited her vehicle and took up a position with Juaregui. After a short tactical conference, officers surrounded the Blazer and broke out the rear window, where they saw Proctor leaning up against the driver’s side door post. He was dragged out of the car, handcuffed on the ground and pronounced dead on the scene.