Family Demands Justice in Wake of Highland Teen's Shooting by Deputies

The boy was shot by deputies for allegedly wielding a hammer, and family members want to know why a less lethal weapon wasn't used first

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    The family of a 16-year-old-boy who was shot by a San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy after a domestic disturbance call holds a protest in front of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Station Monday. Tena Ezzeddine reports from Highland for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 20, 2014. (Published Monday, Jan. 20, 2014)

    Loved ones of a teenager who was shot by deputies demanded justice on Monday from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, whose deputies they say used unnecessary lethal force on the teen.

    Joshua Alvarez, 16, was in critical condition in a hospital days after he was shot by sheriff’s deputies for allegedly wielding a hammer at authorities when they responded to a domestic disturbance call from a family member Saturday night in Highland.

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    [LA] Family Rallies for Boy Shot by Deputies
    While a 16-year-old boy underwent surgery after he was shot by deputies during a confrontation one night earlier, friends and family gathered at the site of the shooting to rally for justice. Gadi Schwartz reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (Published Monday, Jan. 20, 2014)

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    That family member was Alvarez' aunt, Joana Bonilla, who said she wishes she never picked up the phone to call for help.

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    [LA] Teen is Shot After Allegedly Attempting to Attack Deputies
    A 16-year-old boy was shot by deputies in Highland after he allegedly attempted to attack them with a hammer and a sharp object Saturday night. Deputies responded to reports of a domestic disturbance when they found the teen walking away from the scene. Reggie Kumar reports from Highland for Today in LA Weekend on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. (Published Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014)

    "I regret it every minute," Bonilla said.

    Dozens of protesters on Monday chanted, "No justice, no peace," outside the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and held signs that read "Jail killer cops," and "SAN BERNARDINO SHERIFF, FBI & DOJ INVESTIGATION NEEDED."

    The family is demanding "justice for Joshua" and answers as to why deputies did not use a less lethal weapon on the teen.

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    "I feel like they should have used a different force on him because he’s a minor," said the boy’s mother, Elizabeth Camacho.

    The boy was arguing with his brother when sheriff’s deputies responded to the home. As the deputies tried to contact Alvarez, he allegedly turned toward the deputies and attempted to attack them with a hammer and a sharp instrument, sheriff's officials said.

    The deputies then shot Alvarez.

    "It would appear at this point the sheriff used excessive force, lethal force on someone that wasn’t a threat," said Martin Kaufman, an attorney for the family.

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    Sheriff’s officials told NBC4 the teen refused commands to drop the hammer.

    "After the incident, when we were giving medical aid to him, we asked why he didn’t drop the hammer, and in that moment he told the deputies that he wanted to die," said San Bernardino Sheriff’s Cpl. Lolita Harper.

    Friends and family say the whole situation has made them lose all faith in law enforcement.

    "Now we are afraid of calling the cops, because, are they going to be shooting our kids?" said Alva Alvarez, Joshua’s aunt.

    The deputies in question are on paid leave as the case is being reviewed by internal investigators, officials said.

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