Families of men killed by same deputy lead protest in Vista - The CW San Diego - News 8

Families of men killed by same deputy lead protest in Vista

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VISTA (NEWS 8) – A group gathered in Vista Saturday to protest the deaths of Jonothan Coronel and Sergio Weick, two documented gang members who were shot and killed by San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Villanueva within a year of each other.

The families of Coronel and Weick and other community members gathered to grieve their deaths and peacefully protest police brutality. The group chanted and waived signs on the street as they marched about a half mile from the site where one of the men was shot to the site of the other's death. They also sought prosecution of deputy Villanueva.

"Whatever the history behind that person, it shouldn't matter," one protester said. "It should be a process that is taken and not just shot down like an animal on the street."

Coronel, a known gang member wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant at the time, was shot following a foot pursuit in Vista last month. His death investigation revealed that deputy Villanueva fired 16 shots from his service weapon.

Deputies said Coronel was known to carry a handgun and had allegedly made threats to kill law enforcement officers. He did not have a weapon on him at the time of the shooting, but deputies did find a knife and a sharpened screw driver-like object along the pursuit path.

Weick, also the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant at the time of his shooting, allegedly confronted deputies in a threatening manner in a neighborhood near North Melrose Drive and State Route 78 last August. The incident followed a brief foot pursuit preceded by a miles-long vehicle pursuit that ended when Weick crashed his vehicle.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Weick was in possession of several shotgun shells and knives at the time of the shooting.

Villanueva served as an officer with the Escondido Police Department prior to his stint with the Sheriff’s Department.

The Sheriff's Department said that some demonstrators vandalized property, initiated fights and disrupted traffic, and issued a statement a statement in response to the protest:

"While the San Diego County Sheriff's Department empathizes with the family and friends of Jonathon Coronel for their loss, we also have a duty to ensure all residents can use the public roadways and sidewalks safely and without fear. It is always our goal to protect the free-speech rights of citizens and the safety of the community in general.

Unfortunately, while prior demonstrations have been peaceful and respectful towards the community, some members of today's protest vandalized property and initiated physical fights with uninvolved citizens who happened to be in the area. These criminal actions disrupted traffic flow and diverted crucial public safety services away from Vista and adjoining cities. The Sheriff's Department will investigate the crimes committed today and the appropriate follow-up action to identify and arrest those involved will be taken. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200."


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