San Diego

Family of Man Killed in Deputy-Involved Shooting Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Jonathan Coronel, 24, was fatally shot on the morning of July 5, on the 300 block of North Melrose Drive, near Knoll Road in Vista

The family of a man shot and killed by deputies after a foot pursuit in Vista earlier this month has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO). 

Jonathan Coronel, 24, was a documented gang member wanted on a probation violation. He was fatally shot on the morning of July 5, on the 300 block of North Melrose Drive, near Knoll Road.

Coronel's family, their attorney and members of the National Action Network (NAN) spoke out Thursday against the shooting.

They said Coronel was unarmed when Deputy Christopher Villanueva fired his service weapon multiple times, fatally striking Coronel.

Coronel was first spotted by deputies in a green vehicle on the morning of July 5, but when they approached him, he jumped out the car and ran off on foot, SDSO officials said.

He led deputies on a foot pursuit that ended at a home in Vista. During a confrontation, Villanueva fired 16 rounds, striking Coronel multiple times and killing him.

Homicide investigators said Villanueva feared for his life. 

SDSO officials said Coronel was known to carry handguns and had previously made threats to kill law enforcement officers. 

But a witness told NBC 7, he saw Coronel complying with the deputies orders and had been lying face down when he was shot. 

"When you get shot from behind, multiple times, 16 times by one shooter and he pretty much unloads his entire bullets on you, and the other officers involved don’t shoot a shot, I believe it’s a terrible tragedy," said the family's attorney, Angel Carrazco.

Thursday, Coronel's family was joined by Sergio Weick's family as well. Weick, 33, a known gang member was also fatally shot by Villanueva on Aug. 11, 2016.

The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office ruled the Weick shooting justified.

Villanueva, who has been employed by the department for approximately one year, was cleared at the time.

He now faces an investigation in Coronel's death.

"I want my nephew to be remembered as a happy, family man," said Cornel's uncle, Diego. "He has his little girl. He was always happy, he was always excited about everything he did."

Carrazco said this is not an anti-police case. Instead, he said he wants to work with deputies to come up with solutions to prevent incidents such as this from occurring not only in San Diego but around the nation. 

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