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Man sentenced to life in prison for shooting, wounding, CCPD officer

By CJ HADDAD - | Mar 12, 2024

Yousel Lopez Rivera

A man was sentenced to life in prison for attempted first degree murder of a Cape Coral law enforcement officer that took place in 2011.

Yousel Rivera, 33, was sentenced Tuesday afternoon in Lee County for shooting and injuring Cape Coral Police Officer David Wagoner during an early-morning traffic stop on April 16, 2011.

He was charged with one count of attempted first-degree murder on a law enforcement officer while possessing a firearm.

“Today’s life sentence means the defendant, who was capable of such evil actions, will never again be free,” said State Attorney Amira Fox in a release. “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.”

According to information from the SAO, during the traffic stop on Santa Barbara Boulevard, Wagoner approached the passenger side and asked for identification. Rivera pulled out a gun and fired three shots at Wagoner at point-blank range. Two bullets struck the officer’s bullet-proof vest and a third penetrated his stomach, causing Wagoner to fall backwards. Rivera, as seen on police dashcam video, was still aiming at Wagoner as he fell.

The SAO states that Rivera then climbed over his girlfriend, who had been driving, and started to speed off, as Wagoner returned fire. Wagoner’s details given to dispatch via his police radio helped other officers stop the threat. Other CCPD officers quickly arrived on scene, performing life-saving measures, helping to save Wagoner’s life.

Following the shooting, Rivera crashed the car into a home and then ran.

The Cape Coral Police Department, along with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Fort Myers Police Department, found Rivera, 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 shooting.

“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,” Fox said.

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.