Family of man shot by officers wants answers

Jose Naveja’s relatives angry at police over his death
2012-08-03T00:30:00Z 2012-08-14T17:55:44Z Family of man shot by officers wants answersBy Samantha Yale Scroggin/Staff Writer/ Santa Maria Times

The family of a 71-year-old Florida man shot dead by law enforcement officers after reportedly confronting them with a gun Monday in Santa Maria is full of questions about what happened, and full of distrust of the official account.

“You’re going to believe the murderers?” asked Theresa Naveja, sister of Jose Naveja, who was shot and killed by police.

“All too often they hide behind that blue shield, and they executed my brother, a man who was very significant in his family,” she added.

According to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the incident that resulted in the death of Jose Naveja began about 9 p.m. Monday when deputies responded to a 9-1-1 call in the 200 block of South Broadway in Orcutt.

A woman, identified by Theresa Naveja as their sister Bonnie Fout, told dispatchers that she had been threatened by Jose Naveja, who had a gun.

A sheriff’s sergeant spotted Jose Naveja at a nearby gas station, according to officials. Jose Naveja allegedly told the sergeant he was armed and had guns in his vehicle, and ultimately led deputies, California Highway Patrol officers and Santa Maria police officers on a slow pursuit through Santa Maria.

Jose Naveja stopped his car at the north end of Preisker Lane and threw several guns out of his car, according to sheriff’s officials.

Then he allegedly got out of his vehicle, picked up a gun and confronted officers, who fired multiple shots and fatally wounded the man.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is continuing to investigate how many shots were fired and who fired them, among other factors.

Once the Sheriff’s Department’s investigation is done, the findings will be turned over to the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office for review.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Williams said Thursday that the continuing investigation prevented him from providing details such as the name of the alleged robbery victim, and the manner in which the suspect allegedly confronted officers.

“The mission that we have is to do a thorough, complete investigation and make sure it’s accurate,” Williams said.

He noted that the Sheriff’s Department is juggling several officer-involved shooting investigations.

Monday’s shooting was the sixth officer-involved shooting in northern Santa Barbara County in the past eight months.

Each of the shootings the Sheriff’s Department has or is investigating involved a completely different set of circumstances, Williams said.

“We’re looking at each one of those on their own merit,” he added.

Contacted by phone Thursday, an emotionally spent-sounding Fout said her brother had been visiting at her Orcutt home for about a month. She declined to discuss the events surrounding the shooting.

Theresa Naveja, now living in New Mexico but formerly a neighbor of her brother in Florida, described Jose Naveja on Thursday as a “family man” married for 50 years to his wife, Florentina. They have four grown children and numerous grandchildren.

Jose Naveja retired to Sebring, Fla., after working for the New York City Transit Authority for about 25 years, Theresa Naveja said.

He served as a Marine in the Vietnam War, where he engaged in deadly hand-to-hand combat that emotionally scarred him for life, his sister said. He was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder from the experience, according to Theresa Naveja.

He also suffered as a result of being exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange during his military service, his sister said. He was also a cancer survivor and suffered from diabetes, she added, and was taking numerous medications to deal with his ailments.

Fout reportedly claimed that she called police because their brother had a gun by his side and tried to force her to write a check for gas money so he could drive to see his son in New York, according to Theresa Naveja.

Jose Naveja had been despondent before he was shot, she said, and was in one of the emotional episodes that he slipped into every few months when he went off his medication.

“He gets extremely depressed,” she added.

Theresa Naveja said her brother had a permit for his guns, and took them as he traveled cross country by car because he didn’t want to leave the weapons unsupervised at home.

Theresa Naveja said she has received conflicting messages about what transpired Monday night, and doesn’t know exactly what happened leading up to the shooting.

“He was a Marine, and if he saw all these guns pointed at him, he probably went into Marine mode. Once a Marine, always a Marine,” she added.

Williams said investigators are considering the possibility that Naveja committed “suicide by cop,” in which someone provokes a police officer to use lethal force because the person wants to die, but Theresa Naveja doesn’t believe that her brother was doing that.

She noted that Jose Naveja had his car packed with belongings to visit his son, and could have shot himself or deliberately crashed the car if he wanted to kill himself.

“He had no reason to want to do suicide by cop,” Theresa Naveja added.

Jose Naveja’s daughter, Stephanie Naveja of Florida, said she also didn’t know all the details of what happened leading up to and during the shooting, but had questions for police.

“I’m getting different versions. Nothing is making sense to me except it’s very convenient that the camera didn’t work,” Stephanie Naveja added, claiming a law enforcement officer said a patrol car camera failed to record the event.

Again, Williams said the continuing investigation kept him from confirming or denying the claim that a law enforcement camera didn’t work properly.

He said, however, that investigators are looking into any available video or photos of the event as part of their inquiry.

Stephanie Naveja said her father always respected the authority of law enforcement, and was even a stickler for ensuring his children wore their seat belts.

“I know for a fact that my dad would never threaten a cop, hurt a cop, because he was in the Marines,” she added.

Copyright 2015 Santa Maria Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(15) Comments

  1. Santos805
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    Santos805 - September 01, 2012 3:40 pm
    The police should be held responsible for they're actions like everyone else. They should get no special treatment for killing innocent people. Just because they are cops should mean a slap on the wrist. At least get them on conspiracy. They get everyone else on it.
  2. 4everyoung
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    4everyoung - August 04, 2012 2:27 pm
    Totally agree with you. Like to add, some families think it is someone elses responsibility to take care of their business and to top it off; They blame others if it dont come out in their favor. Maby he wanted his SSI check and Sister kept it. Lets call the cops,they fix it. OOps they didn't do it my way. Nomore SSI checks coming in, no more inhome care coming in. Oh help me complain so I can sue the SMPD. That's what the walk is about.
  3. Justin Case
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    Justin Case - August 03, 2012 2:51 pm
    I have to agree with ICE too,

    Heck, an individual was recently gunned down for having a toy gun!

    In the present case; how convenient, the cops allowed this senior citizen to throw all his weapons out of his vehicle, then allow him to walk up to one weapon, hold it, then fire more than 29 rounds at him…

    I bet there was absolutely nothing the cops could have done in between all of these actions…I guess it was easier to expel all those rounds and hope one of the more than 29 would hit this guy…

    What’s even more convenient, the cop cars camcorder was “malfunctioning”…I guess we’ll have to take the cops version of events…AGAIN!

  4. keeper's pantry
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    keeper's pantry - August 03, 2012 1:04 pm
    i agree with 'friend of ice'. it's unfortunate that he was having one of his 'episodes' but he didn't exactly leave the police with much choice. i'm not saying they didn't do enough, but families in general need to be more active in helping loved ones that are dealing with mental issues
  5. diedra
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    diedra - August 03, 2012 12:28 pm
    Gee, I have a vehicle full of guns..I hold a gun to my sister for money....I run from the police....I pick up a gun when police have guns pointed at me telling me to get on the ground...I dont obey those orders...Yeap...its the police's fault, and if he was a Marine..he would have obeyed the orders...
  6. Friend of ICE
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    Friend of ICE - August 03, 2012 12:03 pm
    I understand the family is upset most especially the sister it seems. However, I am perplexed at a few things in this article. First, if he was under the care of of Doctor for mental issues he shouldn't have had guns? In fact, it is against the law for a mentally ill person to possess and carry a weapon. Second, if the family knew he was despondent, why did they let him have access to the guns? Third, I find it highly unlikely he had a permit to carry loaded weapons in every state between here, New York, and Florida. It is virtually impossible to get a carry permit in New York and California (never mind he was 5150). Third, using his veteran status as a Marine is odd at best. There have been numerous documented incidents where a former GI has gone off the deep end and shot and killed officers.

    Although, it is sad that life has been taken but he created the chain of events that ended in the shooting. At any time he could have stopped and surrendered and all of this could have been averted. You brandish and point a firearm at the police after failing to yield very, very bad things can and will happen!
  7. The Gimlet Eye
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    The Gimlet Eye - August 03, 2012 11:47 am

    Full Retirement Benefits Await Police Chief Macagni
  8. Mouser
    Report Abuse
    Mouser - August 03, 2012 11:34 am
    It is time to bring in the Department of Justice! Cops who don't know how to take down without killing demonstrate a lack of training. Cops who say killing is less expensive than a trial aren't authorized to save money anyway! Santa Maria, Seattle and several cities have become Free Kill Zones. Santa Maria, you are not the city I grew up in. It is time to bring in the Feds, in part because your Police Department is leaderless by the cities own hand! It is the man with a gun I fear, it is the man wearing a badge! Good luck to the People of Santa Maria.
  9. 4everyoung
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    4everyoung - August 03, 2012 9:47 am
    It really bothers me when people make negative coments about the PD. Have worked in the Law Enforcement, Mental Helth and Education field for over 30 years. Have seen alot and just about know all that is going on. Also, I have spend lots of time in other countries to learn about culture and so on. Believe me, it is no joke as to who lives in our community. No joke as to what is going on behind the 4 walls of our neighbors. Our Officers have the responsiblity to protect us. If we continue to bash our Officers, we wont get anywhere. Actually it will get worse. There are people who want the challenge, heroism and power. If we show ZERO TOLLERANCE and full support for our Law Enforcement, this could come to an end. By bashing our Law Enforcement, we give power to the evil. It could be were going to have the National Guard in our community and have a cerview if were not supportive toward our Law Enforcement. Do you want that??? I sure dont.
  10. Justin Case
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    Justin Case - August 03, 2012 9:14 am
    Naveja family,

    The SMPD will claim Jose was a “known gang member” and “wanted parolee with a gun” and a "drug dealer” and “had a 17 year old police explorer girl friend”.

    They will submit their report to the SBDA, the SBDA will place their seal of approval on this latest shooting, cops get more medals, paid vacations, bonuses, and case closed.

    Trigger happy cops! Welcome to Santa Tiajuanna!

  11. 4EverHopefull
    Report Abuse
    4EverHopefull - August 03, 2012 8:37 am
    It is very tragic that something like this would happen. He seemed like a good man yet troubled with emotional distress. My heart goes out to his family along with the officers who were involved. I pray that the family gets the answers they are looking for. Based on what I saw and heard the police asked him numerously to put his hands up and drop his weapon however he continued to yell obsenities and picked up a gun that he had previsouly dropped by his van. My personal opinion is the police were justified in their decision as it was their last resort to protect themselves and those in the surrounding neighboorhood. When things like this happen it is always tough to comprehend and find the answers as to why this had to happen. I pray that the media will back off from the family and let them mourn their loss, I also pray the media and community will hold off on their comments on the actions of the police officers until the investigation is complete and all the facts are revealed.
  12. MARYLJ1212
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    MARYLJ1212 - August 03, 2012 8:15 am
    Nobody was murdered, an armed individual was shot. Can't believe you guys go off half-cocked any time the police shoot a suspect. It's really simple, when the red lights are behind you, PULL OVER AND DO WHAT YOU ARE TOLD.
  13. 4everyoung
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    4everyoung - August 03, 2012 7:53 am
    I am so sorry for the loss to his family. However, according to the articles and media, it was brought to my attention that he had many health issues. I just have a question why is it that the didn't sister give him some money, got him more help while he was here. Kowing he had PTSD. Why blame the police??? I am sure he felt rejected by his family and was 5150. All this over a few $ and not accepting him. It is difficult to deal with people who have PSTD and there is help. I am sure the pot started to cook and then boiled over. There is no excuse these days to recognice the symptoms and get help. it' so easy to reject him and let the cops deal with and then blame them. I am not surprised that the sister is blaming the PD for everything. Actually expected it. Again it came true " It's your fault" DENIAL. That's how I see it.
  14. TiredofSMBS
    Report Abuse
    TiredofSMBS - August 03, 2012 7:43 am
    Sheriffs dept cars will have the whole thing on video. I've heard that SMPD's video systems have been purposly negelted and not properly maintained just so they can get something else.
  15. Slammo
    Report Abuse
    Slammo - August 03, 2012 7:29 am
    Cowboys with guns, and their friends get to investigate. Talk about good ol' boys. It's funny how the camera works when they do something right, but when they murder someone, it doesn't. Then all we have to go by is their story and I doubt they will admit to murder.

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