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Easter officer-involved shooting ruled justified

October 11, 2018

A Cameron County grand jury has agreed with the Texas Rangers that an Easter officer-involved shooting that left a 23-year-old Cameron Park man dead in front of his family’s apartment was justified.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis V. Saenz said the Texas Rangers submitted the findings to the DA’s Office, which presented those findings to a grand jury in mid-September.

No criminal charges were ever brought against the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department deputy, Saenz said. The grand jury only considered the Texas Rangers findings that the shooting was justified, he explained.

Sheriff Omar Lucio said Wednesday that the deputy who fired the fatal shot is Sonny Pedraza, who has been with the department for three years.

Pedraza responded to the 2600 block of Avenida Florencia on Easter for a 911 call from Luis Yiar Alvarez’s mother, Esmeralda Vega, who told authorities that her son assaulted his girlfriend

In a 911 call released by the sheriff’s department, Alvarez takes the phone from his mother and tells authorities not to try to arrest him because he will come after them with a gun or a knife.

When deputies arrived, they can be heard on the 911 recording telling Alvarez to back up. His mother can be heard on the call pleading with her son to obey the deputies.

The day following the shooting, Vega said her son did have a knife, but that he didn’t intend to assault anyone.

“That’s when he went outside with the knife, but both hands were up,” the grieving Vega said.

When the sheriff’s department released the 911 recording, Sheriff Omar Lucio declined to answer any questions and said that the department has a policy of not identifying officers involved in the shooting.

Lucio directed inquiries to the Texas Rangers, which is part of the Department of Public Safety that routinely investigates officer-involved shootings.

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