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Whitehall police fatally shoot man, investigation underway

Whitehall police shot and killed a 36-year-old man early Friday morning.

Police identified the man who died as Santiago Elias Alfaro Diaz. Authorities say Diaz was in the passenger side of the vehicle when he was shot.

Police said the driver of the vehicle was 35-year-old William Morales Villatoro. Police charged him with one felony count of improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.

Whitehall Police Deputy Chief Dan Kelso told WOSU that at 2 a.m., two unidentified police officers were conducting an unrelated traffic stop when they heard gunshots in the area of South Hamilton Road and East Main Street near Roses Discount Store.

Kelso said when the officers approached a dark-colored SUV, the driver left the scene, while a second vehicle, a silver Honda Pilot, remained at the scene.

Body camera footage released Friday afternoon showed the two officers communicated with two men in Spanish. The officers asked Villatoro and Diaz if they had pistols or drugs in the car. The two men ate McDonalds chicken nuggets and french fries as they talked to the officers in the two-minute video.

One officer asked Villatoro if he spoke English and Villatoro responded "No, no ingles."

A Whitehall police officer shines a light on Santiago Elias Alfaro Diaz, 36, moments before shooting and killing the man.
Provided by Whitehall Police Department
Whitehall police shot and killed 36-year-old Santiago Elias Alfaro Diaz on April 19, 2024 just after 2 a.m.

One officer radioed into dispatch that the men had a gun. Both officers told the men to get out of the vehicle and put their hands up both in Spanish and English.

Villatoro, the driver, got out of the car and displayed his hands to the officer. Villatoro was placed in handcuffs.

The man on the passenger side, now identified as Munoz, didn't get out of the car or put his hands up and was holding a box of chicken nuggets. When the officer tried to open Munoz's door, Munoz appeared to turn to the side, away from the door. According to Kelso, Munoz reached for a gun.

The two officers fired their weapons at him. Munoz died from his injuries.

In a press release, the police department said they found multiple guns inside the vehicle. None were visible in the video.

Court documents for Villatoro's arrest state officers found a 9mm Taurus G3 handgun in between the front seat and the center console of the vehicle.

"This was a dangerous but tragic situation,” Whitehall Police Chief Mike Crispen said in a statement. “Our officers are trained to respond to threats of violence, especially when guns are involved. Our prayers are with the families of both the deceased and our officers.”

A Flock gunshot detection system verified that multiple shots were fired in the area before officers arrived.

The department is not releasing the identities of the officers involved in the shooting, citing Marsy's Law.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.