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Sunday, 29 March 2009

Parents of Stephen Willis, the armed suspect who was shot dead by Fresno Police officers on Saturday, held a news conference.

Parents of Stephen Willis, the armed suspect who was shot dead by Fresno Police officers on Saturday, held a news conference.
"Our son was a happy 23-year-old, he had his whole life ahead of him; he had a scholarship to ITT, he was top of his class, he hadn't missed one day," said Chris Willis, through his tears.
They say their son did not have a criminal background.They say Willis was target shooting the day before, and was taking his gun from the trunk of his car when police confronted him."I never thought that the police shot him, it doesn't make any sense. Why would he aim a gun at officers? He hadn't done anything," said Chris Willis.The Willis' say they don't believe Chief Dyer's account of what happened at the Stoneybrook Apartments and have hired two local attorneys."We have done an investigation and we are secure that there was serious wrongdoing by the police department," said Fresno Attorney Rick Berman."They were shooting wildly, they were shooting uncontrollably, there was no proper training or supervision... I know everybody's nerves are on edge. Everybody's nerves are raw after the terrible tragedy in Oakland. I saw the helicopters flying back after the officers' funeral, but that does not allow our officers to do something like this," said Berman.Meanwhile the Willis' say they don't wish their tragedy on any other family."Nobody should have to go through this; the police are here to protect us, not to execute our children," said Chris Willis.Attorneys are planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Fresno Police Department in the future.They are also calling for an independent police auditor who has the power to conduct their own investigation into high profile events.Two officers went to investigate and minutes later, shots rang out. Police shot and killed the 23-year-old driver of the car. Over thirty rounds were shot by police. At least one round was fired by Stephen Willis. One officer was shot in the leg. Willis was killed.
Chris Willis woke up Saturday morning to find out his 23-year old son was shot by Fresno police.
"It doesn't make any sense. They just murdered him," cried Willis.
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Willis said his son was headed home to his Southeast Fresno apartment complex from a day at the shooting range.
"He was just taking his gun in from the trunk of his car and they started shooting," said Willis.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer said the department's investigation reveals Willis had been drinking when he erratically drove into his apartment complex.
Two police officers went to investigate. That's when they found Willis with a 6-shooter holstered outside his car.
"It didn't have to turn out this way but unfortunately when the officers gave commands, repeated commands for the firearm to be dropped the individual refused to do so," said Dyer.
A gun battle broke out.
"Officers at that time felt like they were about to be shot," said Dyer.
Bullet holes shredded this van. Investigators said Willis tried to crouch and hide before he was shot and killed. One officer was grazed by a bullet in the left leg. Neighbors said it sounded like the shoot out at the O.K. Corral.
"Bullets! Nothing but shots firing. One right after the other," said Maria Vargas.
"I was laying on the couch and heard heck of gun shots and I got on the floor," said Porsha Smith.
The Willis family said this was gross over-reaction by the Fresno police.
"The police are here to protect us, not execute our children," said Willis.
Police are not sure who fired the shot that hit the officer. He was treated at the scene and released. Willis family lawyers are investigating this shooting on their own.
This is the 5th officer involved shooting in the last three months. 7 officers were involved in shootings last year.


olderandwiser said...

Chief Dyer, by giving blanket proctection to his officers, has created a shoot first, ask questions later attitude. It's far too easy for the officers to strut back to the station and repeat the practiced response, "He pointed a gun, and I was afraid for my life." A rote and practiced response. A 23 yr old college kid was murdered for drinking and driving. The officers snuck up from behind, did not identify themselves, and began shooting when they saw a legally holstered weapon that the boy was taking from his trunk into his house for safekeeping. Dyer needs to step down and the officers fired. For starters.


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