Demonstration Held in Protest of Modesto Officer Involved in Fatal Shooting
MODESTO – A demonstration was held Saturday in protest against the Modesto Police Officer involved in the shooting death of a man on December 29th.
About 100 or so people gathered in front of the police department near the intersection of 10th and G Streets at about 11:00am. Many held signs urging justice for Trevor Seever, who was 29 years old. Seever was shot by Joseph Lamantia, who has been an officer with the department for 12 years. Many in attendance voiced their criticism against Lamantia, who was previously involved in several other shootings during his time at the department.
Police responded to the 2300 block of Woodland Avenue in Modesto on the day of occurrence, after receiving a 911 call from relatives of Seever’s. The 911 call was made by Seever’s sister, and released in a video by the Modesto Police Department. The recording indicated that Seever had purchased a firearm the night before, and had made vague threats toward his relatives. According to a press release by the Modesto Police Department, Seever had send text messages to his family indicating he was on his way to their home.
In a video briefing posted to the department’s YouTube channel, Interim Police Chief Brandon Gillespie stated that officers had previous contact with Seever, who had made anti-law enforcement posts to his social media accounts earlier in the month. This prompted safety bulletins to be distributed to responding officers.
Lamantia was first to arrive in the area and located Seever at the Modesto Church of the Brethren on Woodland Avenue. Bodycam video released by the department shows the officer with his gun already in hand before exiting his vehicle and firing his gun at Seever less than ten seconds after he spotted the individual. It is unclear what Seever was doing at the church before he was located, but relatives on Saturday stated he was sitting on a bench.
Within those ten seconds, Lamantia broadcasted over his radio that he was engaging in a foot pursuit and shouted for Seever to get on the ground twice before opening fire. Four shots were fired at Seever, who was near the northwest corner of a building at the church complex approaching a parking lot. The unclear video appears to show Seever attempting to run away.
Lamantia advanced and ordered Seever to show his hands after broadcasting he had fired his weapon. In the background, Seever can be seen with his hands raised. The officer then provided his location to dispatch as Seever can be seen moving his right arm in the background. It is unclear if he was holding onto something to maintain balance, however his left arm can still be seen raised as Lamantia fires his weapon again. At this point in the video, Seever falls over screaming in pain. The officer then advances to cover behind a tree.
Seever was provided aid by officers and rushed to a hospital, but he later died. Officers were unable to find a weapon at the scene.
“I haven’t even watched the whole thing,” said Katrina Rodriguez in regard to the police video. “It’s ridiculous to see how destructive and horrific he went in with the intent to kill my cousin.”
Although she described the body cam video as difficult to watch, Rodriguez said she and her family are glad that it exists.
“How many people were shot and killed without a bodycam? Thankfully we got to see the bodycam, but how many didn’t have that?” Rodriguez said her family believes the video is vital evidence that can potentially shed light on her cousin’s case. She questioned why the officer was allowed to remain on the force given his history.
Lamantia was involved in several other shootings, some of them fatal. On September 6th 2010, Francisco Moran was shot and killed after police responded to a disturbance. It was believed Moran was armed with a knife, but it was later determined to be a spatula. In June of 2016, Lamantia was involved in a shooting during a narcotics operation that killed 21 year old Omar Villagomez in Turlock. The shooting happened near the Starbucks at West Main Street and Highway 99. Later that year on October 8th, Lamantia would also be involved in a shooting that killed Kim Jackson. Jackson, a 53 year old woman, was armed with knives and charged officers during that incident according to a press release. On October 20th 2020, Lamantia was involved in the shooting of double homicide suspect David Cummings Jr. in Stockton. He survived that shooting and is currently awaiting trial.
“It sucks that it has to be this way,” Seever’s cousin continued. “Maybe it’s all for a reason. Maybe they will finally see the consequences.”
The group left signs and posters on the steps and memorial statue at the police department. Some notes had expletives directed toward the officer, while others asked for justice in the loss of their relative.
Rodriguez said her family was looking into legislation like Assembly Bill 392 which redefines the circumstances in which deadly use of force by police is justifiable. Under that law, deadly force can only be used when defending against imminent threat to life or bodily injury, or to apprehend a fleeing suspect when the officer believes they will cause serious injury or death unless immediately apprehended.
Seever’s loved ones said no matter the circumstances, they did not anticipate his death to be an outcome and believe he could still be alive had a different officer responded first.
“You do not get to choose who lives or dies because you want to be the savior of the day,” Rodriguez added.
Turlock Police Investigate Fatal Stabbing of Teen
TURLOCK – Detectives are investigating the fatal stabbing of a seventeen year old boy that took place Friday night.
Authorities believe that the victim was leaving a house party near the 2000 block of North Daubenberger Road at about 10:45pm, when police received the call reporting the stabbing had taken place.
Arriving officers found the teen on the sidewalk suffering from at least one stab wound. Officers began performing CPR until the victim was transported by medics to a hospital. The victim died about an hour later.
Detectives interviewed witnesses who stayed behind and believe a group of individuals, either white or Hispanic males in their teens or early 20’s, confronted the victim as he was leaving the party. A fight then took place, ending with the victim being stabbed. Friends of the victim called 911 for help.
Further information was not available Saturday morning.
Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact Detective Frank Navarro at (209) 664-7319 or the Turlock Tip Line at (209) 668-5550 extension 6780. Crime Stoppers is also available at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.
Arrest Made in February 14th Homicide
STOCKTON – A 41 year old man was arrested by authorities in connection to a homicide that took place on February 14th of this year.
Shortly before 3:00am that morning, police officers responded to the 600 block of North El Dorado Street for a report of a person down. Arriving officers located a 60 year old man who was suffering from stab wounds. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Throughout the course of the investigation, authorities were able to identify and arrest 41 year old Robert Lee Sandoval Friday in connection to the case. He was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail without possibility of bail on a murder charge.
Sandoval is due in San Joaquin County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.
Deputies Investigate Shooting Near Newman
NEWMAN – A man was taken to a hospital for care after suffering a gunshot wound Sunday night.
The shooting happened shortly before 10:30pm at a mobile home park on the 26000 block of River Road just outside the City of Newman.
According to officials at the scene, the victim suffered an injury to a lower extremity and was stabilized by medical personnel. The victim was taken to a local hospital for further treatment.
One person was detained at the scene, however deputies were still processing the scene and collecting evidence late Sunday night. No motive to the incident was available.
Anyone with information regarding this case can call the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.
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