Who Was the Man Shot and Killed by Kennewick Police?

Who Was the Man Shot and Killed by Kennewick Police?
RICHLAND -- In the day after a deadly officer-involved shooting, there are more questions about Christopher Villarrea, the man shot and killed by a Kennewick Police officer, than there are answers.

What we do know is that preliminary autopsy results show Villarreal died from a gunshot wound to the chest. The report comes from Benton County Coroner, Rick Corson, who said two bullets were pulled from the body in all.

Police said it all started Tuesday, when they report Villarreal was driving erratically in Richland, hit a fence, ran a stop sign and finally, police said, tried to ram an officer's motorcycle in downtown Kennewick. That's when Kennewick Police Chief, Ken Hohenberg said officer Lee Cooper fired his gun. The chief also said Cooper was hospitalized for a leg injury when his motorcycle was hit.

"I was surprised," Christopher's neighbor Dick Ward said. "It was the first time I'd heard anything like that in the last couple of years at least and to find that it was someone up the street was amazing."

It was all shocking news to Dick Ward, who lives a few houses down from Villarreal. Ward said he often baby sat Villarreal's kids.

"They've been really friendly folks, walking around the neighborhood always said 'hi," Ward said. "Never really anything bad come from them."

All was quiet at Villareal's home Tuesday, while many of his friends gathered at his parent's home in on a private road in Kennewick. His parents, Simon and Rose Villarreal, chose not to talk to Action News.

Neighbor Blinda Beuchler lives next to Simon and Rose. She said her and her husband were family friends with the Villareall's and, of the few times she met Christopher, said he was a good person.

Kennewick Police paint a different picture. They said Viallreal had a troubled past.

"He has an extensive history with police contacts in the Tri-City area," Hohenberg said.

Police would not elaborate but Benton County District Court records show he was convicted of driving with a suspended license back in 1998. Seven years ago, court records show Christopher Villarreal was also convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). court records show they also found marijuana and drug paraphernalia, but those charges were dismissed.

The coroner said it will take two to three months to find out if drugs or alcohol were involved.