Life in Prison for Attempted First Degree Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer

This afternoon, Yousel Rivera, was sentenced to life in prison for Attempted First Degree Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer. Rivera shot Cape Coral Police Officer David Wagoner, during a traffic stop in 2011.

Assistant State Attorney Stephanie Russell, Lee County Misdemeanor Division Chief, Abe Thornburg, Deputy Chief of the Hendry County Office of the State Attorney, and Assistant State Attorney John Dommerich Jr., Special Prosecutions Chief, prosecuted the case.

“Today’s life sentence means the defendant, who was capable of such evil actions, will never again be free. I hope Cape Coral Police Officer Wagoner and his family can find some peace in knowing that justice has been served, a continuation of the amazing actions of Officer Wagoner the night of the crime. Though shot, his focus was to stop the defendant, returning fire. He also managed the energy to call dispatch to alert his law enforcement family about the threat, giving a full description of the suspect. His focus and actions, after just being wounded, were the first steps to getting this criminal identified and in custody, so he could not hurt anyone else. These are the actions of a hero. We will never know, thankfully, how many lives Officer Wagoner may have saved that night, while also fighting to save his own,” said State Attorney Amira Fox.

On April 16, 2011, just before 1 a.m., Officer Wagoner, driving a marked patrol car, made a routine traffic stop on Santa Barbara Boulevard. As Officer Wagoner approached the passenger side and asked for identification, the defendant pulled out a gun and fired three shots at Officer Wagoner, at point blank range. Two bullets struck the officer’s bullet-proof vest and the third bullet penetrated his stomach, causing Officer Wagoner to fall backwards. The defendant, as seen on police dashcam video, was still aiming at Officer Wagoner as he fell.

The defendant then climbed over his girlfriend, who had been driving, and started to speed off, as Officer Wagoner returned fire. Officer Wagoner’s details provided to dispatch via his police radio, helped other officers head in the direction of the suspect to stop the threat. Other Cape Coral Police Officers also quickly arrived on scene, performing life saving measures, helping to save Officer Wagoner’s life.

Following the shooting, the defendant crashed the car into a home and ran from the scene. The Cape Coral Police Department, along with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Myers Police Department, located him, naked, hiding in a trash can nearby. He had taken off his clothes and hidden them. The clothing was recovered as evidence, as was the firearm used in the crime.

“Let this case be a reminder. I absolutely will not tolerate any attacks on our law enforcement; such crimes will prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This case is yet another reminder of the tremendous sacrifices that law enforcement and their families make for all of us daily,” said State Attorney Fox.

Samantha Syoen – Communications Director, State Attorney’s Office