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District attorney: Shooting by cop was self defense

A Madera police officer who shot and killed a 32-year-old Madera man this summer acted in “reasonable self defense,” an investigation by the Madera County District Attorney’s Office concluded today.

The officer will not face criminal charges.

Sergio Manuel Valdovinos of Madera died by gunshot June 16 after allegedly swinging a four-foot-long wooden shovel handle (sans a scoop) at cops several times. They had arrived in response to a call about a man breaking out the windows of a parked van in the 800 block of Wessmith Way near Lake Street.

The district attorney’s office said it based its conclusion on a review of “the investigative reports, videos, diagrams, physical evidence, and other materials such as the Madera County Sheriff Coroner’s report, a report from Central Valley Toxicology, and interviews of the parties” involved.

According to the review, the fatal wounds Valdovinos suffered were consistent with police reports of the shooting, which was also documented by several videos of the killing.

A cell phone video recorded by the his mother, Dora Rangel, from across the street shows him failing to follow police commands, taking steps towards waiting officers and forcefully swinging the wooden 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.

Valdovinos suffered from schizophrenia, according to Rangel, who considered the response of the officer to be excessive.

Valdovinos had a prior arrest record that 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.

The district attorney’s office said it followed a protocol it set in February for probes of officer-involved shootings within Madera County, and will take no further action “as the case has been now closed."

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