** (Disclaimer: This video content is intended for educational and informational purposes only) **
On October 16, 2014, now retired Modesto Police Detective Dave Wallace and his partner, Officer Michael Callahan, conducted a security check at 528 Milo Road following a frantic 911 call from Plaintiff Jesse Montelongo’s mother about her son being aggressive toward her – a call in which she told 911 dispatchers that he had something but couldn’t finish saying what he had before the call was suddenly disconnected. Officers responded and eventually contacted Jesse Montelongo. During the officer’s encounter with him, shots were fired, resulting in Montelongo being stuck once. Montelongo filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California against Detective Wallace and the City of Modesto claiming violations of his constitutional rights for excessive force and other claims. The Modesto City Attorney’s Office reviewed all investigative material, which included the criminal case, the Modesto Police Department’s internal review and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s investigation. Their review resulted in the following analysis:
Upon arriving at the house on October 16, 2014 Officer Callahan was told by Montelongo’s sister outside – who had returned from a trip to check on Montelongo – that he had been aggressive toward their mother earlier that night and she was concerned. After Detective Wallace and his partner – both in full police uniforms – approached the house and knocked on the front door, they heard the sounds of Montelongo’s mother frantically screaming “Help me!! Help me, Please!!” coming from the side of the house. As Callahan rushed off toward the frantic cries, Detective Wallace followed him to provide tactical cover when Wallace was suddenly confronted by Montelongo who emerged from the front door. Montelongo stood just inside the door frame concealing his right hand in which he was holding a dark linear object that was not fully visible. Despite two loud and clear commands by Detective Wallace given at gun point to “Show me your hands! Now!!” Montelongo refused to show his hands and instead suddenly and aggressively lunged at Detective Wallace, swinging out the same concealed hand and yelling profanity at Wallace.
Given the tense and rapidly unfolding circumstances – including what Wallace had learned from 911, Montelongo’s sister, and the frantic cries for help coming from the house – when Montelongo ignored the commands to show his hand and suddenly lunged at Wallace with the same concealed hand, Detective Wallace believed he was going to be assaulted and ducked and fired one round from his service weapon. Detective Wallace completed the shot within 1.5 seconds of when Montelongo first began his sudden aggressive lunging movement. Montelongo was hit in the abdomen but survived. Unbeknownst to Detective Wallace at the moment he shot, Montelongo was not actually concealing a gun, but a dark hardcover book, which he threw at Detective Wallace. The shooting was captured on Detective Wallace’s body worn camera. After the shooting, Modesto police called medical personnel who arrived shortly thereafter to come to Montelongo’s assistance.
Montelongo lied under oath about the confrontation with Detective Wallace, saying he had tossed a beer can next to his feet, which falsity he included in his federal complaint as well. Following full discovery, the City of Modesto and Detective Wallace filed a motion for summary judgment to have Montelongo’s claims dismissed on the grounds that Detective Wallace’s use of force was justified because Detective Wallace reasonably believed that Montelongo was an immediate lethal threat when he disregarded commands to show his hands and suddenly lunged at Detective Wallace. 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. The Court has taken the City’s motion for summary judgment under submission and has vacated the trial and all other dates for this case.
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