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SWAT Officer Cleared in Fatal Shooting of Boy, 11, During Modesto Raid

February 23, 2001|From Associated Press

MODESTO, Calif. — A SWAT team officer who shot an 11-year-old boy in the back during a methamphetamine raid was cleared of criminal charges Thursday by the state attorney general.

The killing of Alberto Sepulveda was an accident, and there was no that evidence Modesto Officer David Hawn intended to kill the boy, said Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer.

The boy was lying face down on his bedroom floor when Hawn's shotgun fired.

The Sept. 13 raid was part of a countywide effort to crack down on a methamphetamine drug ring. The boy's father, Moises Sepulveda Sr., was arrested on charges of conspiracy to distribute the drug.

Lockyer said the impact of the killing was devastating and compelled him to set up a committee to review SWAT team practices in the state.

"Unfortunately, too many times the deployment of a SWAT team has resulted in the unintentional death or injury to a peace officer or member of the public," Lockyer said.

The group of prosecutors, sheriffs, police officers, judges and other state and local officials is to recommend SWAT team guidelines.

The findings of the 15-page report by Lockyer and Stanislaus County Dist. Atty. Jim Brazelton mirror an earlier investigation by Modesto police.

Sepulveda's family has filed a federal lawsuit against the city, Hawn and three other officers.

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