Fresno I.P.A. Could Investigate Officer Involved Shooting

March 30, 2009 6:53:03 PM PDT
Fresno Police are waiting for the autopsy results from Saturday's officer involved shooting. 23-year old Stephen Willis was shot and killed after police say -- he refused to lower his revolver.One police officer was grazed by a bullet. Now friends and neighbors want this case reviewed. This shrine, dedicated to the memory of 23-year old Stephen Willis rests on the outside of his apartment ... feet away from where Willis was shot and killed by Fresno Police early Saturday morning.

"I think they need better training. I mean that's the only thing I can think of. That or they're scared of everybody," said Couch. Long time friend Zachary Couch believes the new independent office of review could reveal that police did not have to fire 35 shots at his friend.

Police investigators said Willis, who was drinking that night, refused to drop his revolver and posed a genuine threat to their safety. One of the officers was grazed by a bullet in the left thigh. "I won't empty a clip as I'm walking up with 2 cops, take my clip out, put another clip in and then empty that again. It's just chicken," said Couch.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin said once an independent auditor is hired the D.A. could ask that person to review the shooting. "I think it's gonna give the public another door to go through to get questions answered and also just the confidence in knowing that things are being handled appropriately," said the mayor.

That is what Frank Ochoa hopes for. When Ochoa arrived at his mother's house for breakfast Saturday he received a police escort and news a bullet pierced his 70-year old mother's apartment. "Their apartment got hit and my mother's apartment got hit. It's she's only like maybe ten feet from here to her room," he said.

Ochoa said an I.P.A. could ease tension between some Fresno residents and the police. The coroner's office should release Willis's autopsy results Tuesday morning.

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