Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Public Safety

Three Years Later, Family Of Man Shot By San Diego Sheriff's Deputy Still Asking For Justice

Rocio Zamora speaks at a news conference about the death of her cousin Jonathon Coronel, July 3, 2020.
Claire Trageser
Rocio Zamora speaks at a news conference about the death of her cousin Jonathon Coronel, July 3, 2020.

Amidst new scrutiny of police use of force, especially on people of color, the family of a young Latino man shot to death by a San Diego Sheriff's Deputy three years ago is again asking for justice.

Jonathon Coronel was 24 years old when he was shot by San Diego Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Villanueva in Vista on July 5, 2017. Coronel was unarmed when he was shot, and Villanueva was not charged or disciplined for the shooting.

"My cousin was tortured to death," said Rocio Zamora, Coronel's cousin, during a press conference Friday. "Brown and black people train ourselves and our children to remain calm when the police harass us, when they hold us at gunpoint."

A spokesman for the Sheriff's Department declined to comment.

Three Years Later, Family Of Man Shot By San Diego Sheriff's Deputy Still Asking For Justice

On the date Coronel was shot, deputies were chasing him to serve a search warrant, according to District Attorney Summer Stephan.

"The detective stated on (police) radio that he saw Mr. Coronel reach into his waistband and it appeared he may have a handgun," Stephan said at a 2018 news conference.

But Coronel wasn't armed, according to a review of the shooting. When Coronel moved his hands from behind his back to his chest, the deputy shot him, and then shot him again as he laid on his side.

There is no body camera footage of the incident, and internal records about it have not been released. The family is suing the Sheriff's Department over the shooting, and that lawsuit is still ongoing.

Zamora asked for Villanueva to be charged with the shooting, for an independent commission to investigate police shootings, and for Sheriff Bill Gore to resign.

"Finally, we demand that a historic marker be placed at the site of every person who was killed by police, that has been faced with police brutality," she said. "The families never forget, we think about this every day so neither should you forget."

San Diego County Supervisors recently approved a measure increasing the oversight role of the Citizens' Law Enforcement Review Board, or CLERB. The board conducts independent investigations of citizen complaints of misconduct by sheriff's deputies and probation officers employed by the county.

Three Years Later, Family Of Man Shot By San Diego Sheriff's Deputy Still Asking For Justice
Listen to this story by Claire Trageser.