Sierra Vista Police officer cleared in shooting - Tucson News Now

Sierra Vista Police officer cleared in shooting

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Sierra Vista Police officer Justin Dannels has been cleared in April shooting incident, according to the Pima County Attorney's Office, and has been reinstated to full duty.

In a recent release from the Pima County Attorney's Office Officer Dannels was cleared of any wrongdoing in the April shooting of Lauro Jesus Avechuco. An investigation by the attorney's office determined that Officer Dannels was justified in firing his weapon at Avechuco.  He believed his life was in immediate danger as the suspect drove directly at him, said Pima County Chief Criminal Deputy Attorney Kellie Johnson in her formal opinion.

The incident began on April 13, when Officer Dannels attempted a traffic stop on Avechuco's vehicle. According to SVPD reports the vehicle stopped and then drove off for several blocks and stopped again, then began speeding toward Officer Dannels.  It was at this point, according to reports that Dannels fired his weapon at Avechuco's vehicle, striking and killing him. 

"It was reasonable for Officer Dannels to determine that Mr. Avechuco posed a threat to others in the community based on the conduct he observed during his interaction with Mr. Avechuco," Johnson further writes. "For all these reasons, I conclude that Officer Dannels' conduct was justified under Arizona law."

"I have to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, and the Pima County Attorney's Office for assisting our agency with this investigation," said Sierra Vista Police Chief Thomas Alinen.  "Unfortunately the driver of this vehicle made poor decisions that night which ultimately lead to his death.  The facts of the investigation speak for themselves."

The full report of the April 13 incident is being forwarded to the City of Sierra Vista's City Clerk to be processed for release.

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