Family demanding justice for 23-year-old man fatally shot by Rialto police following traffic stop

Attorneys for Christopher Valadez's family have released new videos that shed light on what lead to the shooting on Oct. 22.
RIALTO, Calif. (KABC) -- Family members, attorneys and supporters are demanding justice for a 23-year-old man who was shot and killed by Rialto police during an altercation following a traffic stop last year.

"This is a murder," said attorney Humberto Guizar at a Tuesday news conference in front of Rialto City Hall. "This officer needs to be charged."

The incident happened on Oct. 22, 2021 at approximately 12:30 a.m. when police tried to stop Cristopher Valadez for an alleged traffic violation in the 100 block of N. Encina Avenue.

According to police, there was a struggle when the officer attempted to detain Valadez, who had initially fled on foot. Police Valadez eventually returned to his truck and got inside, at which point another struggle ensued.

Attorneys released video shot by an eyewitness that shows Valadez try to drive away, while the officer was still trying to detain him with the driver's door open. At that point, another officer arrived and fired several shots at the vehicle, striking Valadez.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that there was no one in danger, there was no one in harm's way. And you cannot justify this shooting," Guizar added.

Family members say Valadez was on life support for several days before he died.

"Christopher was a very loving and caring person," said Maria Mariela-Valadez, the mother of the man who was killed. "This can't be happening, it's something very hard that I can't even explain."

Valadez was unarmed at the time of the incident. But police say he used his truck as a weapon and attempted to hit the officers.

Rialto police Capt. Anthony Vega released a statement following the news conference.

"The basic facts are that the suspect refused to obey several officers' commands; the suspect attempted to flee the scene using his vehicle; and the suspect using his vehicle as a weapon accelerated towards another officer who took action to protect himself by shooting the suspect."

"The City of Rialto's Police Department will limit comments to these basic facts until conclusions are finalized by the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office. The full context of the incident will be made available to the news media and the public upon review by the Rialto City Council."

Valadez's family said at the news conference they intend to file a lawsuit.

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