No charge for the club’s security guard who shot and killed a man

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A security guard at the Grand Rapids club who shot dead a man last month will not be charged after claiming self-defense.

Jose Garcia Rivas31, was fatally shot in the early hours of the morning 4 Sept at La Petite Chateau on S. Division Avenue South near 28th Street.

In a Friday release, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker, the security guard whose name News 8 does not use because he is not being charged, told investigators he believes he saw Garcia Rivas draw a gun.

“(T)he people have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (the guard) did not act in self-defense when he fired his three shots. Based on the facts presented here, we cannot,” Becker wrote.

“In fact,” the prosecutor continued, “any other evidence we could present would support[the warden’s]argument that he acted in self-defense.” … (His) belief is not unreasonable given all that has happened up to this point.”

The prosecutor’s release says Garcia Rivas and his girlfriend were kicked out of Le Petite Chateau for “causing disturbance”. On the way out, he threw a bottle at another guard’s feet. Arriving in the parking lot, he was arguing with other people about what had happened at the club. When the other group went back inside, Garcia Rivas and his girlfriend continued arguing in the parking lot for a while.

Then, the prosecutor said, surveillance video shows “Garcia Rivas suddenly ran to the club’s east entrance, picked up a beer bottle that was standing by a post, opened a door and threw that bottle at the club’s second front door. … (The guard) is right behind this door. As the bottle hits (the guard) is seen crouching just before Mr. Garcia Rivas violently flings open the inner front door.”

At this point, the guard drew the gun he was carrying openly and fired three shots, two of which hit Garcia Rivas, one in the chest and the other in the abdomen. He died in the hospital.

The security guard immediately reported the shooting to his supervisor, who called 911 and cooperated with Grand Rapids police upon their arrival, the prosecutor said.

“He told police he … saw Mr Garcia Rivas raise his right hand from his waist area in an upward motion. (The guard) thought he saw something black in Mr Garcia Rivas’ hand, so he fired three times,” the prosecutor wrote.

When questioned at the police station, the security guard said he was concerned for the people in the club when he opened fire. The guard reiterated that he saw something in Garcia Rivas’ hand and that he was afraid of Garcia Rivas’ angry behavior.

“…When he was still rushing to the door, I opened it and lit a fire because I figured if he comes in here and starts shooting, it’s over for a lot of people,” the prosecutor quoted him as telling investigators.

Garcia Rivas did not have a gun in hand or anything else, but the prosecutor said the security guard still had reason to believe he was a threat because he had been kicked out of the club, argued in the parking lot and the beer bottle had been thrown and was actively trying to force his way back into the club.

The prosecutor found that Garcia Rivas’ actions constituted a felony and that “under Michigan law (the Guard) is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that he acted reasonably.” There is no evidence that we can present that would refute this assumption.”

“… (Given all the circumstances at the time, it was not unreasonable for (the guard) to believe that he was in danger, although ultimately he was wrong,” Becker wrote. “There is no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (the guard) did not act in self-defense that night; therefore, no charges are being filed in this incident.”

Garcia Rivas’ girlfriend was also shot dead. Her injuries were not life-threatening. No charge for the club's security guard who shot and killed a man

Dais Johnston

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