Elizandro Vargas, 31, Shot And Killled By El Centro Police Officers Along Ocotillo Drive

EL CENTRO, CALIFORNIA (September 9, 2023) – A robbery suspect identified as Elizandro Vargas has tragically died in an El Centro police shooting by the 1900 block of Ocotillo Drive.

Imperial County officials are saying that the incident began around 6:09 a.m. on Thursday. El Centro police officers got a call after a theft at a business on South Imperial Avenue.

A witness followed the suspect who was later identified as Elizandro Vargas. He was allegedly holding a brick when he encountered police officers.

Officers ordered the suspect to drop the brick before opening fire. Paramedics were called to the scene in order to help the suspect.

Elizandro Vargas was taken to the ECRMC where he died around 8:00 a.m. that same morning. The shooting is currently being investigated by the California Attorney General as required under AB 1506.

Pursuant to the statute, there must be an investigation by the California AG anytime California law enforcement kills an unarmed person.


Liability For El Centro Police Shootings

The United States leads the world in police shootings each year. According to the Law Enforcement Epidemiology Project, “An estimated 250,000 civilian injuries are caused by law enforcement officers annually. More than 600 people are killed by law enforcement in the U.S. each year.” Many police shootings are completely avoidable. There are many steps that police departments should take to avoid killing suspects.

  • Officers should be trained to de-escalate encounters with suspects.
  • Officers should have their body cameras turned on whenever they have to interact with the public.
  • Officers should be trained to understand when a suspect may be in the midst of a mental health crisis.
  • Officers should be equipped with less-lethal alternatives to their firearm.

All police must use the utmost care to avoid needlessly harming suspects. When a police officer uses excessive force, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. Pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983, every person who, under the color of any statute, law or ordinance, causes a citizen of the United States to be deprived of their rights secured by the constitution, shall be liable to the injured party in an action at law. There are many ways that a police officer might have used excessive force.

  • An officer may have shot a suspect after they surrendered.
  • An officer may hit a suspect already restrained.
  • An officer may have shot a suspect as they were attempting to flee.

Whether or not an officer’s use-of-force was reasonable will depend in part on the circumstances leading up to a shooting. Sadly, police departments will often do everything that they can do to deny responsibility if they kill a suspect. This is why it is so important that all relevant evidence is properly preserved. It is always a good idea to have that evidence examined by someone who is skilled in constitutional law.

Investigating An El Centro Police Shooting

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Elizandro Vargas. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. It is our sincere hope that the El Centro Police Department is transparent about what happened.

Do you need more information about an El Centro police shooting? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to help in any way that we can. We focus entirely on helping victims of police brutality across California. Whether you just have legal questions or need a free, independent investigation into any incident we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at  (949) 825-5200.


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