Bodycam shows police detective shooting man in stomach after he threw a book at him

Oliver O'Connell
Bodycam footage released by the Modesto Police Department shows the 2014 incident in which a detective shot a man who threw a book at him: Modesto Police Department

Police in California have released bodycam footage of the moment a detective shot a man in the stomach after he had a book thrown at him.

The Modesto Police Department posted the video and a description of the events to its Facebook page in response to a lawsuit filed by the victim, Jesse Montelongo, and his family alleging excessive force, unreasonable search and seizure, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The incident occurred on 16 October, 2014, when Detective Dave Wallace, now retired, and his partner, Officer Michael Callahan, were called to an address in response to a frantic 911 call from Mr Montelongo’s mother, reporting her son's aggressive behaviour.

During the call, Ms Montelongo told dispatchers that her son had something, but the call was disconnected before she could say what.

Upon arriving at the house at 528 Milo Road, Officer Callahan was met outside by Mr Montelongo’s sister who had come to check on her brother. He had, she confirmed, behaved aggressively towards her mother earlier that night.

The uniformed officers approached the house and knocked on the front door. From the side of the house, Mr Montelongo’s mother could be heard screaming: “Help me! Help me, Please!”

Officer Callahan rushed towards Ms Montelongo’s screams, with Detective Wallace following him providing tactical cover.

It was then that Detective Wallace was confronted by Mr Montelongo, who emerged from the front door, his right hand partially concealed by the door frame. The police description of the incident says that Mr Montelongo appeared to be holding a dark linear object in his right hand.

His gun drawn, Detective Wallace twice gave the command: “Show me your hands! Now!”

It was then that Mr Montelongo lunged his right arm forward throwing a hardback book at the detective. This turned out to be a high school yearbook, the Sacramento Bee reports.

Believing he was being assaulted, Detective Wallace ducked and fired one round from his service weapon, 1.5 seconds after Mr Montelongo’s sudden movement.

Mr Montelongo was hit in the stomach as he retreated into the house, shutting the front door. The bodycam footage shows the officers finding him injured face down on the kitchen floor.

After the shooting, the officers cleared the house of family members, including five children, while calling for medical assistance, which arrived within a few minutes.

Mr Montelongo, who has since undergone multiple surgeries and will continue to suffer from gastrointestinal problems, filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of California against both Detective Wallace and the City of Modesto.

Modesto City Attorney’s Office says that Mr Montelongo lied under oath about the confrontation, claiming he tossed a beer can next to his feet. He also claimed this in his federal complaint. A motion has therefore been filed for a summary judgment to have Mr Montelongo’s claims dismissed. The defendants claim that the use of force was justified because Detective Wallace responded with actions consistent with his training.

Mr Montelongo's attorney, DeWitt Lacey, has filed a response and expects the defendants' motion to be denied and a trial date to be set.

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