Driver Subdued Where Daughter Was Shot in '96


A parolee who led police Tuesday on an explosive chase through residential neighborhoods, tossing four Molotov cocktails at them as he drove, was arrested at the same intersection where police had shot and critically wounded his teenage daughter last summer, officials said Wednesday.

Victor Valerio, 37, was captured after pulling into a parking lot at Ball Road and Moody Street shortly after 9 p.m. Buena Park police surrounded his car and fired three "beanbag bullets" at him from a shotgun.

It was the first time Buena Park officers used the nonlethal slugs, which "knock the wind" out of a suspect long enough for police to move in, Sgt. Ken Coovert said. Valerio, who was bruised but not seriously injured, was taken to City Jail.

The officers said they chased Valerio nearly 20 minutes after they found him yelling and lighting gasoline-filled bottles in a Buena Park neighborhood. Police said they don't know why he had made the bombs.

On Aug. 23, 1996, Valerio's 16-year-old daughter, Jill, was shot nine times by Cypress police at the same parking lot after she stole a van from the Riverside group home where she had been living and drove to Orange County.

The teenager hasn't lived with her parents since social workers removed her as a 3-year-old from the family's Cypress home and she was declared a ward of the court, said her lawyer, Walter R. Zech.

Jill Valerio has since filed a lawsuit against the Cypress Police Department for negligence and "using unreasonable force, without probable cause" in their attempts to arrest her. She is still learning how to walk and use her hands, Zech said.

Police called Valerio's arrest Tuesday at the same intersection as his daughter's shooting a coincidence, saying they doubt he was retaliating for the girl's injuries or even realized the significance of the location.

Valerio was convicted in 1995 of transportation and sale of a controlled substance and served 17 months of a three-year prison term at the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco, authorities said. He was paroled last May 4.

The city's patrol officers were trained this year to use the beanbag weapon, which is typically employed by SWAT teams, Coovert said. Each of the department's 24 patrol cars has been equipped with the weapon since July 1.

"The nonlethal shotgun is just another tool for our officers, another alternative to using deadly force," Coovert said. "In this case it worked perfectly. No one was killed or seriously injured and we still made the arrest."

Still, the decision to fire beanbags instead of bullets was based primarily on the fact that several other officers were at the scene with traditional guns drawn and ready for backup, Coovert said.

"[Valerio] could very well have met the same fate as [his daughter] if we didn't use this method," he said.

In Orange County, officers in Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach have access to the beanbag guns, but it was not immediately known how many times, if at all, the weapon has been used. The nonlethal shotgun was introduced to law enforcement departments within the past two years, Coovert said.

Times staff writer Steve Carney contributed to this report.

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