police shootingsJoel Villegas Died In Tulare Police Shooting Following Foot Chase Near Bardsley Avenue and Vetter Street

TULARE, CALIFORNIA (July 30, 2023) – A man identified as Joel Villegas has tragically died in a Tulare police shooting after a foot chase by Bardsley Avenue and Vetter Street.

Tulare County officials are saying that the incident took place around 3:00 p.m. on Sunday. Tulare officers responded to a call about a man who was allegedly threatening someone with a knife.

Officers spotted Joel Villegas and a foot chase ensued. At some point during the foot chase, officers opened fire and shot the victim.

Paramedics were called to the scene in order to help him. Joel Villegas was taken to a local hospital with critical injuries. Sadly, he died shortly after being admitted.

The shooting is currently being investigated under California Assembly Bill 1506. The statute requires an investigation anytime an unarmed civilian is shot and killed by law enforcement.


Liability For Tulare Police Shootings

California has an alarmingly high number of fatal police encounters each year. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, “About 195 people die each year from interactions with California law enforcement. Gunshots are by far the most common cause of death: nearly 250 people are shot by police each year.” Roughly 40% of the people treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds after a police encounter were diagnosed with a mental health or substance abuse disorder. There are a number of steps that police departments should take in order to reduce fatal shootings.

  • Police officers should be trained to understand when a suspect is in the midst of a mental health crisis.
  • Police officers should be required to wear body cameras that capture their interactions with the public.
  • Police departments should have extensive background checks and psychological evaluations for potential officers.
  • Police officers should know how to de-escalate potentially dangerous encounters.

Police officers must do everything in their power to avoid needlessly harming suspects. Pursuant to California AB 392, all people in California have a right to be free from the excessive force of officers that is exercised under the color of law. Excessive force occurs when an officer uses force beyond what he or she reasonably believes is necessary. Under the statute, the reasonableness of an officer’s actions are determined in part on the “totality of the circumstances” leading up to an officer’s use of deadly force. There are a number of ways that a police officer may have acted inappropriately leading up to a deadly encounter.

  • A police officer may have failed to determine if a suspect was mentally ill.
  • A police officer may have failed to properly identify themselves.
  • A police officer may have shot a suspect who was fleeing.

It is almost never alright for a police officer to use deadly force on a suspect that is fleeing. Likewise, it is not legal for a police officer to hit or shoot a suspect who is already restrained or subdued. The family of any person that died in a police shooting may have legal recourse through a constitutional claim. It is extremely important that all evidence is properly preserved after any deadly police encounter.

Investigating Tulare Police Department Shootings

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of Joel Villegas. It is our sincere hope that there is a thorough investigation into what went wrong. There are so many questions that need to be answered. Were Tulare police officers following protocol?

Do you need more information about a Tulare police shooting? Our team of civil rights advocates are here to answer any questions that you may have. We care deeply that victims of excessive force are aware of their rights. In fact, we focus on instances of police abuse. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support we are here for you. You can reach out to us anytime at (949) 825-5200.


legal disclaimer

Legal Disclaimer