Charges filed against deputy who shot wife

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Columbia Basin Herald/file photo Deputy Jose Rivera with his wife Sydney and their child. Jose was charged for shooting his wife in August 2017. Both Jose and Sydney claim the shooting was unintentional.

MOSES LAKE — Despite the victim claiming the shooting was unintentional and an accident, felony charges have been filed in Grant County against a deputy who shot his wife in August 2017.

Franklin County prosecutors, who are handling the case at the request of the Grant County Prosecutors Office, charged Jose A. Rivera, 29, of Moses Lake, in Grant County Superior Court with third-degree assault (criminal negligence and weapon), third-degree assault (criminal negligence and substantial pain) and reckless endangerment.

Court documents indicate that on the night of the shooting on Aug. 9, 2017, Rivera, who had about five years of law enforcement experience, and his wife Sydney arrived home at their West Lakeside Drive residence in Moses Lake after eating dinner.

Rivera, who was off duty at the time, told investigators he was “dry-firing” a Springfield XD 9mm gun he had purchased a few days before the incident. Sydney was reportedly kneeling down and getting ready to paint some furniture when Jose pointed the gun’s laser at her and said “hey babe, do you see that?” Jose then reportedly pulled the trigger.

“I was messing around with the laser and I pointed it at the wife. She looked down and I was a (expletive) idiot and I pulled the trigger,” Jose told investigators.

The bullet struck Sydney’s right arm and lodged in her chest. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment, but she was later airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to have the bullet removed. Jose Rivera went on to explain that he has dry-fired weapons in his residence before and normally points at the television or various knick-knacks around the house.

“He did not have a reason or explanation for pointing the gun at his wife. He said he had not pointed a gun at her prior to this. Jose stated there are no issues between them and they were not having any arguments. He repeated several times that it was not his intention to hurt his wife,” wrote an investigator.

Court documents indicate Rivera was remorseful and in a state of “shock and disbelief” over what had occurred. Sydney Rivera was able to corroborate her husband’s story and “did not relate any information that would indicate the shooting was an intentional assault.”

The investigative report lists the following possible contributors to the incident:

Sleep: The Riveras had a 4-month-old baby at the time and Jose worked a 16-hour call with the Moses Lake Regional Tactical Response Team (TRT) in the 24 hours before the incident. Jose and Sydney both said Jose had about four hours of sleep.

TRT: Court documents indicate Rivera was new to the TRT, actively tried to improve his skills and frequently dry-fired his weapon at home.

New equipment: Jose purchased the new Springfield four days before the shooting and a new holster he ordered for the gun arrived the day of the incident.

Firearms safety: Investigators, and Jose himself, admitted he failed to follow proper firearms safety rules and neither he nor his wife attempted to make any excuses as to why he pointed the weapon at Sydney.

Rivera has been on paid administrative leave since the incident.

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