by Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project:
Modesto, CA — Over the years, the Free Thought Project has reported on police officers shooting people for holding toys, pencils, screwdrivers, food, and even nothing. However, we’ve never seen a cop shoot a person wielding a junior high yearbook — until now. Though the following incident unfolded in October 2014, video of Jesse Montelongo, 35, getting shot for underhand tossing a book has been kept secret until now.
The newly released video is part of a lawsuit between Montelongo and the Modesto Police Department because after Montelongo underhand tossed the book, officer Dave Wallace tried to kill him. He fired a single shot into Montelongo’s abdomen, which has since caused and will continue to cause Montelongo a lifetime of suffering.
“It took us a while to get this video and reveal to the public because the defendants didn’t want it to be seen by the public,” said Montelongo’s attorney DeWitt Marcellus Lacy. “As a matter of fact they had marked this confidential and attorneys only we believe inappropriately.”
According to the police department, they responded to Montelongo’s home that night over a domestic dispute. Montelongo was reportedly in a heated argument with his mother and intoxicated. When officer Wallace showed up to the scene, he had his gun drawn.
As the body camera shows, Montelongo is standing in the doorway to his home holding an object on his side. That object was the book. He then tosses the book — underhanded — in Wallace’s direction and turns to go back inside. This would be a near-fatal mistake. Wallace then fires as Montelongo retreats, hitting him once in the abdomen, through his back.
“Shots fired — he threw something at me. He wouldn’t show me his hands. Threw his object at me,” Wallace is heard saying in the video.
Attorneys for Montelongo are claiming that Wallace’s use of force was excessive that night, especially considering the fact that their client was unarmed and walking away when the officer fired.
“Jesse was shot even though he was unarmed and clearly did not pose an immediate threat to the officer,” Lacy said.
Naturally, police dispute this claim and say that Montelongo posed an imminent threat to the officer’s safety and Wallace had no other option but to try to kill the unarmed man for tossing a book because he “suddenly lunged.”
“Detective Wallace’s actions were consistent with his training and Modesto Police Department policy to try to avoid a lethal threat (by ducking or moving) while simultaneously neutralizing the threat (including with the use of force), which is exactly what Detective Wallace did,” said Modesto Police officials in a statement.