Crime & Courts

Family of man shot by Wichita officer says police escalated situation (VIDEO)

Alina Quintero, left, a cousin of John Paul Quintero, who was shot by Wichita police on Saturday, and her sister Adriana Soto, discuss John Paul’s life and death. (Jan. 5, 2015)
Alina Quintero, left, a cousin of John Paul Quintero, who was shot by Wichita police on Saturday, and her sister Adriana Soto, discuss John Paul’s life and death. (Jan. 5, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Wichita police escalated the situation that resulted in an officer shooting a 23-year-old man outside a North Oliver house, his family said Monday.

“They got out of the vehicle ready to kill,” said Alina Quintero, a family spokeswoman and cousin of John Paul “Paulie” Quintero, who died at a hospital hours after the shooting Saturday.

Alina Quintero, 24, was referring to a Wichita police officer who carried a rifle used to fire two shots into Quintero’s midsection Saturday night in the 500 block of North Oliver.

Police would not discuss Alina Quintero’s comments.

“Our thoughts are with the family over this incident,” said police spokesman Lt. James Espinoza, “but at this time we are not going to comment in regards to this investigation.”

On Sunday, Interim Police Chief Nelson Mosley said the female officer shot John Paul Quintero after 911 dispatchers received calls that he was armed with a knife and under the influence of alcohol. Nelson described Quintero as being “belligerent” and confrontational with officers and ignoring commands. After a male officer deployed a Taser, which had no effect on Quintero, Quintero moved toward the male officer and reached toward his own waistband, and the female officer fired two shots into Quintero’s midsection, Mosley said.

Detectives later determined that Quintero had threatened to kill people at the home, at one point holding a knife to a woman’s throat, before going outside and sitting in an SUV, Mosley said.

In an interview at a family home Monday afternoon, Quintero’s family was critical of how police handled the situation.

“One fact is, police shot an unarmed man,” Alina Quintero said.

On Sunday, police said they had not found any weapon that John Paul Quintero might have used.

His cousin noted that one witness said he saw her cousin holding his hands up, facing the female officer, “who had her rifle up, and she was looking down the sight.”

The witness was quoted in Monday’s Eagle saying that he was on his way home from work and saw the officer pointing the rifle at Quintero and looking down the sight. He slowed down as he was driving by and did not see the shooting.

“Everybody’s upset, angry, hurt,” Alina Quintero said.

She said that as her cousin lay there critically injured, officers handcuffed him. “Like they didn’t care if he was bleeding to death, that he was nothing,” she said. “They treated him like he was not a human being. My aunt had to call the ambulance to make sure they got there fast.”

According to the police time line, the disturbance call came to 911 at 6:43 p.m. Saturday, and two officers arrived at 6:51, eight minutes later. Police said EMS got there at 7:04 and took Quintero to Wesley Medical Center.

Alina Quintero wasn’t the only one critical of the shooting. Walt Chappell, a former state school board member from Wichita and vice chairman of the city’s Racial Profiling Advisory Board, said in a separate interview Monday that it appeared that the officers in the Quintero’s shooting “made a conscious decision to escalate rather than de-escalate.”

The fact that the female officer walked up with a rifle “would indicate to me they were already loaded for bear,” Chappell said.

“You don’t go in ready to shoot first and ask questions later. There’s a lot of things you can do before you ever pull out a weapon.”

By ordering Quintero out of an SUV in front of the house, police caused a confrontation by making Quintero, who was reportedly under the influence, “further agitated,” Chappell said.

He also questioned some of the police account. “What does it mean, ‘He’s going for his waistband’?” Chappell said.

Alina Quintero said her cousin had grown up in San Antonio and moved to Wichita a few months ago. He had just begun a food-processing job. “He came here to start a better future,” she said.

He was known as “Paulie” in his large extended family, and he was the “goofy,” playful cousin who joined hide-and-seek games with his younger cousins, she said.

Now, she is helping to put fliers around town seeking donations for expenses related to his death, including possibly taking his remains back to San Antonio.

The fliers are headlined “Justice for John Paul” and say he was “gunned down by Wichita Police Department.” Donors can find information at www.gofundme.com/jpquintero.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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