Deputy shoots, kills teen at Elkhorn hospital; incident under investigation

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

After more than an hour of media interviews, Sheriff David Graves paused and took a shaky breath. He apologized for being emotional.

Then he continued explaining how a Walworth County sheriff's deputy on Monday had been injured before he fatally shot a jail inmate, 18-year-old Alfredo Emilio Villarreal of Janesville.

"I had a member of my team attacked for no reason," Graves said. "He defended himself and others around him to the best of his ability."

Meanwhile, in the lobby outside Graves' office, Villarreal's family waited in the hope of talking to Graves after the news conference. While they waited, they vented to reporters about Villarreal's death.

"He was a very, very good kid," said Joseph Verdick of Elkhorn, whose girlfriend is Villarreal's sister. "He's made some mistakes, but who hasn't?"

Villarreal died Monday at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center, Elkhorn. He was fatally shot by a sheriff's deputy who had been guarding him in a hospital room, Graves said.

The deputy is on administrative duty while the Waukesha County Sheriff's Office reviews the case, he said.

Graves would not release the name of the deputy.

Villarreal had been taken to the hospital from the Walworth County Jail at 3:36 a.m. Monday, jail Administrator John Delaney said.

Officials would not say why Villarreal needed to be hospitalized. He was getting inpatient care, said hospital spokesman Adam Beeson.

Family members had not been told why he was hospitalized, Verdick said.

Monday evening, Villarreal was alone in his hospital room with the deputy. He had been shackled to his hospital bed by one ankle. Villarreal asked to be released to use the restroom, Graves said.

That had happened several times during the day, and the deputy had no reason to think anything out of the ordinary would happen, Graves said.

When the deputy unlocked the shackle, Villarreal punched and kicked the deputy in the face, Graves said.

The deputy called for backup as the struggle moved toward the door of the hospital room. The deputy used a Taser against Villarreal, but the Taser did not stop him, Graves said.

Villarreal "continued to beat on the deputy," Graves said. Villarreal picked up a chair and tried to smash the hospital window. When that didn't work, he tried to hit the deputy with the chair, Graves said.

The deputy felt he was in imminent danger and shot Villarreal, Graves said.

Other law enforcement officers arrived after Villarreal was shot. Police and hospital staff tried to resuscitate him, Beeson said.

The hospital will investigate the incident from a medical and procedural standpoint. It is not unusual for an inmate to be in custody at Aurora Lakeland for medical treatment, Beeson said.

"This is not out of the ordinary for someone to be treated while in police custody," Beeson said. "What happened at the hospital last night was out of the ordinary."

Villarreal was taken into custody at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Elkhorn Police Chief Joel Christensen said. Villarreal was a passenger in a car that was stopped for a traffic violation in Elkhorn.

Officers were considering arresting Villarreal on charges of obstructing and felony bail jumping; a state Department of Corrections worker put a probation hold on Villarreal, Christensen said. He was booked at the jail at 8:37 p.m. Sunday, Delaney said.

Villarreal's probation stemmed from two Waukesha County Court cases, according to court records. Villarreal pleaded guilty to battery after a fight with a 16-year-old boy in February at school in Hartland. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery after a July 2011 fight with a 15-year-old boy at a park in Hartland.

In September, he was sentenced in both cases to 30 days of jail, which were stayed, and one year of probation. The probation was transferred to Rock County so Villarreal could live in Janesville with relatives, according to court records.

Villarreal was a student at Rock River Charter School, according to Janesville School District records. He hadn't been to school since mid-December, and his attendance had been spotty since before Thanksgiving, school district spokesman Bret Berg said.

Counselors will be available Wednesday for charter school students who are upset by Villarreal's death, Berg said.

Villarreal spent his time between Janesville and Elkhorn. Villarreal's girlfriend, who is pregnant, lives in Elkhorn, Verdick said.

Villarreal was scheduled to go to trial in February in Walworth County on a charge of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Police responded to a report of a fight in March behind Jackson Elementary School in Elkhorn, according to court documents.

Villarreal told police he had twice stabbed a 29-year-old man in the stomach, according to court documents. The man was hospitalized.

On Tuesday, Villarreal's family said he had a history of being honest and respectful to police. It is unlike him to try to attack an officer, they said.

"He was a perfectly healthy kid with no mental health issues," Verdick said. "It just doesn't make sense."

Last updated: 7:58 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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