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March 24, 2010 — Winter Garden

During a movie night, four friends were surprised by two men who entered their Winter Garden apartment uninvited.

One man was known to the group while the other one was a stranger to them. One of the men, Richard Rivera Jr., 25, pointed his handgun at the group and demanded their money, cell phones and access to a safe. One person managed to dial 911.

Around 2:15 a.m., four officers from the Winter Garden Police Department responded to the call. When Officer James Avila entered the apartment, Rivera pointed his gun at him. Read more

Avila shot at Rivera, who was hit by two of the bullets. After Rivera fell down, the officers retreated until additional units arrived.

Rivera was injured but recovered after surgery. He was convicted of possession of of marijuana with the intent to sell and other drug charges.

A jury acquitted him of the robbery and assault charges, including assault on a law enforcement officer. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

This was the 21st police shooting in Florida in 2010.

One day earlier, one officer shot one person in Lantana .

Two days later, five officers shot three people in Jacksonville .

4 ways this case compares to others

  1. Rivera was among the 7 percent of people who appeared to be on drugs before being shot.
  2. Rivera was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
  3. Rivera was suspected of being involved in an armed robbery. That's true in 1 of every 9 police .
  4. Rivera pointed a weapon at officers. Twenty-eight percent of shootings involved people who police say pointed a weapon at them.

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