MODESTO -- Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson is defending one of his deputies who shot two men while on duty in a three month period, saying the public has no reason to be concerned.
“Absolutely not, it’s a coincidence. And the fact that he encountered two different individuals, very closely in time, who again, they were violent encounters, and they were non-compliant,” Christianson said.
Christianson said the outcomes of those encounters reflected the suspects behavior.
Five year veteran of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office Christopher Hendee was part of two recent officer-involved shooting investigations.
In the first case, on August 5, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said Hendee shot 28-year-old Russell Garcia after a short foot pursuit that began as a traffic stop in Knight’s Ferry. At the time, the Sheriff’s Office said Garcia ran from a car, fought with the deputy, and was shot during that struggle an undisclosed number of times. The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office told FOX40 that Garcia later pleaded no contest to a felony violation of PC 69: willful and unlawful attempt, by means of any threat or violence, to deter or prevent an executive officer from performing his or her lawful duty.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office added that Deputy Hendee’s use of force in that case was determined to be lawful as evidenced by the filing of criminal charges and Garcia’s subsequent conviction.
In the second case, on November 5, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said two deputies responded to a domestic dispute call on the 1700 block of Vivian Road in Modesto around 1 a.m. They initially said only one of the deputies shot a man at the home, and that the man was transported to a local hospital. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office later said Deputy Hendee was the deputy who shot the man.
That man, 20-year-old Alex Barbour said the deputy had no reason to shoot him.
He identified himself on Tuesday. He spoke with FOX40 off camera at his Vivian Road home, because he was on medication and recovering from a gunshot wound to his chest. He said that he and his girlfriend got into and argument and that he left the house to get some air. When he came back some time later, he said he saw a cop car parked just outside the property near a mailbox. He said he parked his car right in front of the fence leading to his driveway, turned off the ignition, and got out of the car. He said within seconds, he had been shot in the chest. He said he looked at himself, saw blood running down his shirt, and fell to the ground. He said he was not armed, had nothing in his hands, and posed no threat to the deputy.
In response to Barbourr’s version of events, Sheriff Christianson said this: “Deputy Sheriffs in this association don’t wake up, go to work, and look for people to shoot. That’s just a ridiculous narrative.”
Sheriff Christianson said he could not specify what exactly led Deputy Hendee to shoot Barbour, in order to protect the integrity of the on-going investigation. He said that those details would be made public once the investigation was completed, but would not include any officer video footage. That’s because the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office does not have body cameras or dash cameras.
Barbour’s aunt, who identified herself as Ms. Myers, spoke with FOX40 over the phone Tuesday. She said that the family was not angry with the Sheriff’s Office, but thought that they needed protocol changes.
“I can only speculate what happened. And I think maybe the deputy was startled, or scared when he shot him. I think, they weren’t expecting to see each other,” Myers said.
Myers said that Barbour was concerned with raising his 6-month-old son, and in the process of a complicated family court battle as he was attempting to gain custody with the help of an attorney. She said Barbour’s relationship with the baby’s mother, who called 9-1-1 had been a challenging one, and that they had been on and off for a while. She added that Barbour was a respectful young man.
“No innocent young man should be shot over problems that so many families deal with,” Myers said.
Sheriff Christianson said Barbour was not a stranger to the Sheriff’s Office.
“This is not Mr. Barber’s first rodeo. Okay. He has a history of domestic violence and he has a history of violating domestic violence restraining orders,” Christianson said.
Court records indicate that a temporary restraining order was filed on September 5th for an allegation of domestic violence. However, the case was dismissed and closed on October 17. That was almost three weeks before deputies were called out to Vivian Road early in the morning on November 5.
Myers said that Barbour also spent a night in jail, accused of violating a restraining order again, even after it had been closed in court. She said the Sheriff’s Office records did not show the update from the court.
Barbour said he is considering taking legal action against the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office.
“We have cops in the family. You know, nothing but respect. We just hope protocol changes on so many levels,” Myers said.
As of now, Barbour has not been charged in this case. However, Sheriff Christianson said that didn’t mean that he could not be charged, once the report was sent to the District Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff Christianson said that Deputy Hendee was not placed on administrative leave for either shooting.