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Family of man killed by police obtain civil rights attorney
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The lawyer who successfully sued BART in the wrongful death of Oscar Grant is representing the family of a 27-year-old man shot and killed by a Manteca Police officer.

Oakland civil rights attorney John L. Burris is conducting a press conference today at 11 a.m. in front of the home at 242 Flores Street where Ernest Manuel Duenez , Jr. died on June 8.

“The family is concerned that the Manteca Police Department has released false and misleading statements about the shooting death of Ernest Manuel Duenez, Jr., who was the father of an infant son and unarmed and strapped into the seatbelt of the (vehicle) in which he was a passenger when he was shot to death,” read a statement announcing the press conference. “The family is protesting the police officer’s use of excessive force and Ernest Manuel Duenez, Jr.’s., wrongful shooting.”

Manteca Police indicated that Duenez was shot in a confrontation that followed a traffic stop in front of the Central Manteca home.

Police said that Duenez had advanced on the officer with a weapon. Officers reportedly had prior knowledge that Duenez was a parolee-at-large and was considered armed and dangerous as a convicted felon.

“What the family is allegeding is inaccurate,” Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker said Wednesday.

Bricker said that when all of the facts are out it will be clear that the officer was justified in shooting as his life was threatened.

“I stand behind the officer as does our department,” Bricker said of the 10-year veteran who has not been identified.

The patrol vehicle the officer was driving was reportedly equipped with a video cam that was activated during the incident. Law enforcement officials haven’t confirmed if that was the case and, if it was, what the video shows.

Once the Manteca Police finish gathering evidence it will be turned over to the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Officer for review. That, however, may take six months or longer. The district attorney’s office has other officer-involved shootings they are investigating including several in Stockton that are ahead of the Manteca incident. The DA’s office is the lead agency in the investigation.

Burris will be joined by attorney Ben Nisenbaum, members of Duenez’s family, and witnesses to the incident.

Burris was retained by the family of Oscar Grant after he was shot to death by Bay Area Rapid Transit Police officer Johannes Mehserle on the platform at the Oakland Fruitvale station on Jan. 1, 2009.

Mehserle was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the killing of the unarmed Grant. He has been released after serving 11 months in jail.

Burris was able to obtain a $1.3 million payment to Grant’s mother from BART to settle a civil suit.

According to police, Duenez has been convicted of burglary, statutory rape, possession of controlled substances, felony evading arrest, vehicle theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, assault with a deadly weapon, and participating in a criminal street gang.