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Family of Highland teen shot by deputy calls for changes

The family of a teen who was critically shot by a sheriff's deputy in Highland is calling for changes in the department.
January 20, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
The family of a teenager who was critically shot by a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy in Highland is demanding an independent investigation and changes to the department's policies.

With bullhorns and large signs, family members of 16-year old Joshua Alvarez marched for several hours Monday afternoon. They are upset that a 911 call for a domestic disturbance Saturday night ended with a deputy shooting the teenager.

The incident happened around 10:30 p.m. on the 7400 block of Rogers Lane. Joana Bonilla, Alvarez's aunt, says she's the one who called police, because Alvarez was fighting with his brother. She said she regrets calling 911.

Bonilla says that when deputies arrived, Alvarez was outside with a hammer and a pair of scissors. As deputies approached, she says they fired twice, hitting him. She says it didn't have to be that way.

"Taser him, or even tackle him. There were two of them. They could have easily got to him," said Bonilla.

The sheriff's department says the deputies repeatedly told Alvarez to drop the hammer. They said he refused to drop it and "moved toward" the deputies.

"Hammers can cause great bodily injury. They can be extremely dangerous, and so in that moment, the deputy chose to use the force that he or she chose to use," said Lolita Harper with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "After the incident, when we were giving medical aid to the suspect, we asked him why he didn't drop the hammer. He told our deputies that he wanted to die."

Alvarez was rushed to the hospital, where he was listed in critical condition Monday. His family says he has liver and kidney injuries.

"We want justice for my nephew. This can't be going on. I'm tired of this," said Alba Alvarez, the teen's aunt.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at (909) 387-3589.

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