California officer charged with fatally shooting unarmed man
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) — A police officer accused of fatally shooting of an unarmed man in central California was fired from his job, arrested and charged with voluntary manslaughter Thursday.
Prosecutors announced the charge against Joseph Lamantia after an investigation into Trevor Seever’s death concluded that the officer’s conduct and use of deadly force violated the Modesto Police Department’s policy, procedures and training.
Seever was killed by Lamantia on Dec. 29 after police received a 911 call from a woman saying that her brother told their family he bought a gun and was “walking over here just to watch what happens to us.” At the time, police had circulated a bulletin about Seever after he posted threats against Modesto police officers on social media.
Body camera video shows Lamantia getting out of his car and running towards Seever near a Modesto church. The officer is seen firing several shots at Seever in broad daylight even after the 29-year-old man complied with his commands to put his hands up.
Police later determined Seever did not have a gun.
Seever’s sister later told KCRA-TV the shooting was not justified and that she had called police to de-escalate a tense situation with her brother.
“The death of Trevor Seever is a tragedy for his family, friends, and our community,” interim Police Chief Brandon Gillespie said in a statement. “The men and women of the Modesto Police Department work hard every day to build and maintain positive relationships. I understand Officer Lamantia’s actions have set us back. Our department is dedicated to serving the public and committed to rebuilding any trust we have lost.”
Lamantia pleaded not guilty during his initial court appearance Thursday. A judge ordered him to remain in custody and set his bail at $100,000.
The voluntary manslaughter count carries a penalty of three to 11 years in state prison if convicted, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office said.