A Coachella man was shot eight times by an Indio police officer because he pointed a gun at the lawman after previously firing shots at a mobile home park, a prosecutor said Thursday, while a defense attorney claimed his client posed no threat and that the officer who shot him was out of control.

Jury deliberations began Thursday morning in the trial of Mario Alberto Soto, 43, who is accused of firing a gun at the Coachella Mobile Home Park on Nov. 13, 2014, prompting a law enforcement response that ended with Soto being hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

After police went to the scene and attempted to arrest him for allegedly discharging a gun, Soto fled in a vehicle and on foot, then pointed a gun at an Indio police officer, according to prosecutors.

Soto’s attorney, Leonard Cravens, said his client was fired on 16 times by Officer Christopher Shannon and was struck eight times.

Shannon was cleared in the shooting by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

The shooting started at a mobile home park when Soto allegedly fired a gun at around 5 a.m., with one bullet entering a neighboring home. No one was struck by the gunfire. Soto allegedly fired shots again just before 7 p.m., according to police.

Sheriff’s deputies and Indio police who responded to gunfire reports found Soto’s trailer on fire, then saw him drive off in a Ford Mustang, according to Deputy District Attorney John Rodnick.

The Mustang was later found abandoned, with a .380-caliber handgun inside, he said.

Soto was later approached by Officer Shannon on Dr. Carreon Boulevard, and as the officer approached him, Soto produced a handgun from his waistband, prompting Shannon to respond with gunfire, according to police.

Soto was struck by bullets, then fell or jumped into bushes, and was shot with a second volley of gunfire because he wouldn’t drop his gun, according to the prosecutor.

Cravens alleged that Soto never fled from officers and never pointed the gun — which was unloaded — at Shannon, nor did he understand that Shannon was a police officer. The attorney said Shannon arrived on scene and demanded that Soto “Show me your hands,” a command Soto was unable to understand as he primarily speaks Spanish.

Cravens also said Soto was turned away from Shannon, preventing him from leveling the gun at the officer, who he accused of lying about what happened.

“Officer Shannon’s covering up what he did,” Cravens said. “Mr. Soto didn’t point a gun at him.”

Rodnick told jurors that Shannon did what was necessary to protect himself, and emphasized the tension of a situation in which officers are searching for an armed suspect.

“It is insulting to say that it was Officer Shannon who was out of control,” Rodnick said. “To argue that (Soto) is a victim is a disservice to the people who suffered in this incident.”

The prosecutor argued that Soto “caused this situation at each and every stage,” while Cravens disputed whether there was proof that Soto fired off the initial shots that prompted the police investigation. Cravens said ballistics testing was never performed to determine whether Soto’s gun matched the bullets at the mobile home park, while Rodnick said that spent casings matching the same type of gun were found near Soto’s trailer, and that Soto confessed to the shooting while interviewed at a hospital following surgery.

Rodnick said Soto told officers the incident occurred because he’d been on drugs and was depressed about a recent separation from his wife, but Cravens said little credible evidence could be derived from the “so-called confession” at the hospital, as Soto was just coming out of major surgery.

Cravens alleged that Soto had no motive to point an unloaded gun at Shannon other than to commit suicide by cop, a theory that was never advanced by prosecutors.

Soto is facing charges of brandishing a gun, shooting at an inhabited dwelling and negligent discharge of a firearm. Two counts of assault with a gun were dismissed after his preliminary hearing.

Since the shooting, Soto filed an excessive force federal lawsuit against Shannon, the Indio Police Department and the city of Indio. Prior to the trial, Riverside County Superior Court Judge James Hawkins ruled that the jury would not be allowed to hear any references to the lawsuit.

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