Stockton teen killed in police shooting identified

5:14 PM, Jul 23, 2010   |    comments
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  • James Earl Rivera Jr.

STOCKTON, CA - The driver killed in an officer-involved shooting in north Stockton Thursday morning was identified as James Rivera, 16, of Stockton, police said.


Rivera was shot and killed following a short police pursuit involving a minivan and teenage driver who matched the descriptions given in an armed carjacking on Wednesday morning, said Stockton Police Department spokesman Pete Smith. Officers intentionally collided the minivan to stop it in the area of Salters Avenue and Bancroft Way. The driver, Rivera, lost control and crashed into the garage of a residence. When the minivan began moving backward toward officers, Smith said they feared for their lives and fired at the back window.

Rivera was transported to San Joaquin General Hospital where he was pronounced dead not long after.

Smith said Rivera had escaped from San Joaquin County Juvenile Hall. Rivera was being held at the facility on pending felony charges and was suspected in new crimes since his escape, Smith said.

The Stockton police officers involved in the shooting were Officer Eric Azarvand, a 14-year department veteran; Officer Gregory Dunn, with the department eight years; and San Joaquin County sheriff's deputy John Thomas Nesbitt, with 11 years at the sheriff's department.

Friday morning, about two dozen people gathered outside the Stockton Police Department, protesting the police response to the shooting.

Protesters doubted the police version of the incident, and also questioned the ability of police agencies to investigate what happened.

"To us in the community who live in that environment, we have no trust for police to investigate themselves. It's why we're pushing for an independent citizens oversight committee to oversee these types of things," said Motecuzoma Sanchez.

Claims a neighbor had made that an M-16 rifle was used in the incident, however, were denied by police.

"There's absolutely no validity to that," said  Smith. "An M-16 rifle was not fired at that vehicle or used at that scene."

Smith also denied that armor-piercing bullets had been used.

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