Walworth County DA: Shooting of inmate justified
ELKHORN The sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an inmate at an Elkhorn hospital Jan. 21 was justified in using deadly force, Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci said Friday.
In a letter to Sheriff David Graves, Necci cleared Deputy Richard Lagle of any wrongdoing in the shooting, which killed 18-year-old Alfredo Villarreal.
Villarreal attacked Lagle while trying to escape from Aurora Lakeland Medical Center, Necci said, and was coming at Lagle with a chair when the deputy shot him.
“Deputy Lagle was attempting to prevent himself and others from being attacked with potentially deadly force,” Necci wrote. “Therefore, Deputy Lagle was justified in using deadly force in response.”
Neither Villarreal’s mother nor the family’s attorney, Antonio Romanucci, had seen the letter as of Friday.
The family plans to take legal action against the sheriff’s office, Romanucci said.
“We only know one side of it,” Romanucci said of the shooting, “and clearly the police version is the version of the police officer and no one else.”
Necci wrote that his letter is based on an investigation by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office, along with witness statements, video recordings from the hospital and other sources.
According to the letter, Villarreal was taken to the hospital after staff at the Walworth County Jail found him unconscious in his cell early the morning of Jan. 21.
Villarreal had been arrested the night before on suspicion of a parole violation. According to court documents, he was involved in a drive-by shooting in Elkhorn on Jan. 19.
While under observation at the hospital just after 6:45 p.m. Jan. 21, Villarreal was unshackled so he could use the bathroom—something Graves said would happen often.
When Lagle went to re-shackle Villarreal, the 18-year-old kicked Lagle in the face and started punching the deputy in the head, according to Necci’s letter.
Graves said in February that Lagle suffered a broken nose in the attack.
Lagle called for backup multiple times, the letter said, as the fight spilled from Villarreal’s room to the hallway.
The deputy tried to use his Taser to subdue Villarreal but missed, Necci wrote, “rendering his Taser useless.”
Villarreal went back into the room and started banging a plastic and metal chair on his window to escape.
Witnesses told investigators that Lagle ordered Villarreal to stop what he was doing with his gun drawn, Necci said. Villarreal did not, saying, “I’m not going back to jail,” according to the letter.
Villarreal then charged at Lagle with the chair, Necci said, and “raised the chair again in aggression towards Deputy Lagle.”
“Fearing for his safety and the safety of others in the hospital,” Necci wrote, Lagle fired five shots.
Three of them hit Villarreal in the torso, Necci said, while two others grazed him in the head and hands.
Other law enforcement officers arrived to the room soon after the shooting and tried to administer aid to Villarreal, but he died at the scene.
Lagle was placed on administrative duty. Graves did not respond to requests for comment Friday.