Family of shooting fatality has different story than police

(KYTX) - A Tyler family is mourning the loss of a loved one who was shot and killed by Tyler police on new years.

Police say Officer Matt Riggle was acting in self defense when he shot 22-year-old Victor Fuentes.

Investigators say Fuentes refused to put down his gun, and Officer Riggle had no choice but to open fire.

CBS 19's Melissa Daigle spoke to the Fuentes family at their home on Queen Street this afternoon.

Melissa, they have a much different version than police do on what happened.

Victor Fuentes's sister, Erica, says it's a tradition in their family for them to celebrate their mother's birthday and New Year's on the same night. You can actually still see remnants of a birthday party behind me. Erica says they were having a peaceful celebration. And, she says there was no reason for police to open fire.

This is home video of Victor Fuentes just hours before he was shot and killed.

"We love him. Everybody loves him because he's a good, good kid.

Family members say these are their last happy memories of Victor-- celebrating their mother's birthday who is battling cancer.

But later, Victor's father, Juan, says the night took a turn for the worst.

"The last time I saw him he was lying on the ground, dead." "Everything happened so fast."

Tyler police say they got a call just after the start of the new year about gunshots coming from Queen Street in north Tyler.

Police say they pinpointed the shots to the Fuentes house, but Victor's sister, Erica, says that's not true. She says they were just as surprised as the police by all the noise.

"We heard the gunshots. We actually thought it was fireworks."

But police say they saw a muzzle flash and shots coming from the back of the Fuentes house and found more than 50 shell casings there.

That's when, police say, they entered the house through the back door.

Officers say they told Fuentes repeatedly to drop his gun, which was allegedly pointed at Officer Matt Riggle.

But police say Fuentes refused, and Officer Riggle had no choice but to open fire.

Police say Officer Riggle shot Fuentes multiple times and killed him.

"All those officers could tell us is to calm down. How can you tell somebody that? It's not your son. It's not your brother. We're in a lot of pain."

The Fuentes family says Victor would never point a gun at an officer, and they don't believe he was even firing shots at all on New Years Eve.

"He doesn't have any record. He never fought. He never went to jail."

Victor has no criminal history on file in Smith County.

The Fuentes family doesn't understand why police say Victor was affiliated with a gang.

But police say they saw gang-related evidence in the home.

"My brother didn't time for that. He has three kids."

Victor's older brother, Juan Fuentes, is currently serving time in Smith County Jail for organized crime, but Erica says Victor did not go down his path.

"He always gave people advice, like you know, stay out of trouble. He's really, really nice, nice kid. I miss him."

" We just want to say the truth and we want justice. That's all we want, nothing else but justice."

The Fuentes family has this memorial here for Victor. They say they plan to keep these candles lit every day to keep his memory alive. They plan on burying him Friday.

Tyler police and the Texas Rangers are still investigating the shooting.

Officer Riggle has been placed on paid administrative leave for now, which is standard protocol in an officer-involved shooting.



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