Toxicology reports released by the Madera Police Department indicate that Sergio M. Valdovinos, Jr., 32, was under the influence of methamphetamine on June 16, when he was fatally shot by a Madera police officer in the front yard of his family home, in the in the 800 block of Wessmith Way near Lake Street.
Valdovinos was shot multiple times as he approached and repeatedly swung a 4-foot-long wooden shovel handle at police officers.
The incident occurred about 6:45 p.m. that Friday as officers were responding to a call from neighbors of a man, reportedly Valdovinos, breaking out the windows of a nearby parked van. Valdovinos had also reportedly been seen wielding a machete earlier in the evening, according to police.
A cell phone video recorded by his mother shows Valdovinos failing to follow police commands, taking steps towards a group of waiting officers and forcefully swinging the shovel handle at least three times at police before the nearest officer fired eight rounds, striking Valdovinos several times. He died of his injuries on the way to the hospital. No officers were injured.
The Madera Police Department has requested the assistance of the FBI for a review of the fatal shooting. The officer involved is described as a veteran of the force and was placed on administrative leave pending the investigation of the shooting.
Records indicate police were familiar with Valdovinos, with a history of at least 50 prior calls from the area of the Valdovinos home to police, for one incident or another. Records also indicate Valdovinos had a lengthy arrest record which included assault, assault and battery with serious bodily harm, attempted rape, rape, burglary and multiple threats to terrorize. for which he was sentenced to several years in state prison.
Dora Rangel said her son was schizophrenic and she had been attempting to get him help for the last two years, but to no avail. She also wondered whether lesser force could have been used, and said the force used by the officer was excessive.
Chief of Police Steve Frazier expressed his concerns to the community about the shooting, but said he felt his officer had no other choices but to protect himself as Valdovinos advanced towards him.
“This is not what the Madera Police Department (ever) wants to happen,” said Madera Police Chief Steve Frazier at a press conference.
The incident remains under investigation.