MANTECA (CBS13) – A Manteca police officer was justified when he shot a man 11 times in front of his house, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office concluded earlier this week.
The DA’s office on Monday issued its report in the shooting death of Ernest Manuel Duenez on June 8, 2011, concluding Officer John Moody was legally justified in his use of lethal force.
A lawyer for the Duenez family released the dash-cam police video of the shooting this week. The video shows all of the interaction between Moody and Ernest in front of the house and the aftermath of the fatal shooting, including Ernest’s wife, Whitney, running out from the home toward her husband and screaming.
Ernest was a parole at large with a lengthy criminal history, including seven felony convictions. When Officer Moody started his shift, he was informed that Ernest was wanted and considered armed and dangerous, the report said.
Moody positioned himself near Ernest’s residence at 242 Flores Avenue on the day of the shooting and pulled in behind a blue pickup truck that Ernest was in, riding in the back “jump” seat.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEO
As Moody approached the truck, he reportedly ordered Ernest not to move four times, but Ernest continued to exit the truck. Moody yelled “Hands up! Hands up Ernie! Don’t you move! Ernie, don’t you move or I’ll shoot you! Hands up! Drop the knife now!”
Ernest was armed with a knife and when he turned toward Moody after jumping to the ground, the officer feared for his safety and fired his service weapon 13 times, hitting him with 11, the report states. A knife was recovered in the back of the pickup.
However, Ernest’s mother says the video proves he wasn’t carrying a knife.
“By releasing this video and putting it out there to the public, they see what we have seen, not what the DA has written,” said Rosemary Duenez, Ernest’s mother.
“In the video, I do not see a weapon,” said Rosemary.
Ernest’s mother says the video proves he wasn’t carrying a knife.
The video does show him turning toward the truck, where investigators say he reached forward. That’s when the officer started firing.
“I’m heartbroken,” said Whitney.
Whitney ran outside and found her husband shot. He was still alive when she kept yelling for officers to call an ambulance. It’s a moment that she can’t stop from replaying in her mind.
“That will always be in me,” Rosemary said. “I will always remember his cries as he was dying.”
CBS13 showed former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness the video, and he agreed with the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office that the officer’s actions were justified.
“It’s an ugly thing to see; but in terms of the mindset and conduct of the officer, I see nothing to suggest wrongful conduct on his part.”
McGinness says what is key is the officers mindset at the time of the incident. In this case, the knife likely had the officer fearing for his life.
“You can hear him say, drop the knife,” McGinness said.
As for the 13 shots, McGinness says that too is justifiable.
“The purpose, when you’re legally and morally justified to shoot, you’re goal should be to stop your adversary,” said McGinness. “And at that point, you are in fact legally and morally justified to kill, and I think it comes down to something that’s that simple.”