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Prisoner shot, killed at hospital

Deputy reportedly fired weapon to stop attack

MEETING WITH THE PRESS in the lobby of the Walworth County Law Enforcement Center on Tuesday, Joseph Verdict, brother-in-law of Alfredo Emilio Villarreal, expressed doubt about the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office account of the shooting that cost Villarreal his life.

January 22, 2013 | 05:39 PM
ELKHORN — On Monday evening an 18-year-old prisoner was shot and killed by a Walworth County deputy at an inpatient room at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center after he attacked the deputy with a chair and attempted to escape.

The dead man was identified by the Walworth County Sheriff's Office as Alfredo Emilio Villarreal of Janesville. The incident happened at about 6:47 p.m., according to a sheriff's office press release.

The shooting is now being investigated by the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.

Villarreal was in custody in Walworth County after a probation and parole hold was ordered by the Department of Corrections office in Janesville. Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said Villarreal was brought to the Walworth County jail by Elkhorn police on the hold order.

Graves spoke with the media in his office early Tuesday afternoon. Reporters, both television and print, were allowed into the secured area of the sheriff's department in small groups. Graves gave a statement and answered questions.

Outside the law enforcement center lobby, members of Villarreal's family stood, demanding to know what really happened in the fatal shooting of the 18-year-old.

Relatives said that Villarreal's girlfriend lives in Elkhorn. The couple was expecting their first child, relatives told the press.

Villarreal had been at Lakeland Medical Center since Sunday evening, undergoing tests and observation for a personal medical issue, Graves said.

He would not say what the medical condition was.

Villarreal was in an inpatient room at the hospital, secured to a hospital bed with ankle restraints, Graves said.

A deputy who had been guarding Villarreal earlier had released his ankle restraints to allow Villarreal to use the bathroom in the patient room without incident, Graves said.

The second deputy was following the same routine when Villarreal requested to use the restroom, Graves said.

Sometime around 6:47 p.m. Monday, when the deputy released Villarreal's restraints, Villarreal attacked the deputy, punching him and kicking him in the face several times.

The deputy called for assistance and then deployed his Taser, which failed to subdue Villarreal, Graves said. Graves would not say whether Villarreal somehow withstood the Taser charge to continue fighting, or if the Taser failed to function.

He said that is part of the investigation.

Villarreal then grabbed a chair and tried to break a window to escape. When he failed to break the window, Villarreal allegedly tried to strike the deputy in the head with the chair.

Graves said at that point, the deputy felt his life was in danger. He drew his service weapon and shot Villarreal, Graves said.

At least two law enforcement officers were in the hospital at the time of the incident and responded to the deputy's call for assistance, Graves said. By the time they got to the room, however, the incident was over.

Law enforcement officers and hospital staff tried to revive Villarreal, but he died at the scene.

Graves defended his deputy's use of deadly force.

He said the deputy had no other choice. If the prisoner had incapacitated the officer and taken his weapon, others in the hospital would have been in danger, Graves said.

"The inmate brutally attacked a member of our family, of our department," Graves said. "My deputy did what he had to do."

The location of the inpatient room and what floor it was on is not being released.

The identity of the officer who fired the fatal shot is also not being released. Graves said that the deputy is a veteran officer.

While Graves did not indicate what injuries the deputy suffered, he did mention that the deputy suffered a broken nose.

Graves also did not reveal how many shots were fired.

Graves said the incident was contained within the inpatient room and its entry way.

Adam Beeson, Lakeland spokesman, said the room where the incident occurred is a regular patient room, on a floor with a nurses' station.

Beeson said it shouldn't surprise anyone that a jail prisoner was at the hospital receiving treatment.

"The reality is that every hospital in the nation sees patients who are in custody," Beeson said. "They're still human beings who need hospital care."

He said the hospital relies on deputies for security in those situations, although the hospital also has its own security.

Beeson said the altercation happened so quickly that hospital staff did not hear shots fired and there was no time to activate a code in the hospital.

He said the room is now closed off and is being investigated as a crime scene.

He said Lakeland is also providing counseling to hospital staff who request it.

Relatives who were waiting included brother-in-law Joseph Verdict and an aunt, Mary Perez. Verdict and Perez spoke to the Regional News about Villarreal.

They said they weren't notified of their relative's death until 1 a.m. And the sheriff's department had not provided them with a consistent time of his death.

"He's a very good kid," said Perez. "He made some mistakes."

Verdict said Villarreal was a talented artist who was very family-oriented.

"He was just an all-round good kid," Verdict said.

Family members said they didn't know why Villarreal was picked up on a probation hold out of Rock County.

Graves said he didn't know why Villarreal was on the hold, either, except that he apparently violated the conditions of his probation.

While Graves said that Villarreal was unshackled to go to the restroom, Perez said she heard that Villarreal was shackled when the coroner arrived to claim the body.

They also questioned the sheriff's department's story about the incident. They said they doubted that Villarreal was trying to escape.

"Where would he go if he escaped?" a family member asked. "It's all corn fields."

They said his body has not been released and is now in Waukesha County.

She said the family wants to know where Villarreal was shot and how many times he was shot.

"Why hasn't his body been released to the family?" asked Perez. "We want answers."

Villarreal has had at least one previous encounter with Walworth County law enforcement. He was arrested in Elkhorn in March 2012 for first-degree reckless endangerment, use of a dangerous weapon.

Villarreal was accused of stabbing a 29-year-old man during a fight with a knife that had a five-inch blade. According to police reports, Villarreal later admitted that he had stabbed the victim.

In August, he had a warrant issued against him from Walworth County for failing to appear at a Walworth County Court hearing in connection with the assault case.


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