He was the baby of the family, the youngest of six, a loyal Dodgers fan and the apple of his mother's eye. He took in stray dogs, regularly attended St. Joseph Church and, at 22, his life was just beginning.
These are the memories and personal recollections of Sarina Gonzalez, 29, the sister of Ramiro James Villegas, who died Thursday after four Bakersfield police officers fired multiple gunshots and a Taser at him during an incident in northeast Bakersfield.
Villegas, who went by the name James De La Rosa, was not armed. He had never been in trouble with the law.
"Do you want to hear my brother's story?" Gonzalez asked. "He's not here today, but we can tell it for him."
The Bakersfield Police Department has told its side of the story over the past several days. Now it was time, Gonzalez said, for the community to hear her brother's story.
So on Tuesday, Gonzalez, Sarah De La Rosa, an aunt and godmother to Villegas, two cousins and other family members, met with a Californian reporter and photographer at the law offices of attorney Daniel Rodriguez, whose legal services have been retained by Villegas' family.
"James lived with my mom. He worked hard and he took care of our mother. He made sure she went to her doctors appointments, took all her medications and that her bills were paid.
"It says a lot about him, you know," said Gonzalez, who is employed by the county of Kern.
"Coming from six siblings, the little one stepped up to the plate. Baby brother."
During her interview, Gonzalez stopped several times as her throat squeezed shut as she tried to hold back the emotion. But when she wasn't drying her tears, she laughed, too, at memories of a young man who loved to dance so much he sometimes didn't need music to break into a step.
Villegas attended Foothill High School, where he played baseball for the Trojans. At the time of his death he was employed by Sturgeon & Son doing oilfield-related work.
"He was really excited to get that job," Gonzalez recalled. "He had done other work, but he felt this was his first real job."
Villegas had been saving for a car. But when he learned that his mom's Jeep Liberty needed repairs, he gladly handed over the money to her.
That's the kind of person he was, his sister said.
Rodriguez wanted Tuesday's interview to steer clear of the details of what happened the night of the short police chase on Highway 178, the crash of the Jeep Liberty into a road sign on Mount Vernon Avenue, and the shooting that ended Villegas' life.
But when Gonzalez was asked about police descriptions of Villegas as combative -- that he approached officers aggressively and "suddenly reached for his waistband" -- she shook her head.
"That's totally out of character for him," she said. "No, that's not my brother. He wouldn't do that."
Rodriguez said he's already spoken with two witnesses who support the view that Villegas posed no threat to the four officers.
Police, on the other hand, say they've talked with witnesses who say he screamed at officers and approached them in an aggressive manner.
Despite the raised stress levels, despite the adrenaline likely coursing through all five men that night, Rodriguez keeps coming back to one fact above all others.
Villegas had no gun or weapon of any kind. Police have verified that. He didn't brandish a gun. He didn't hold anything in his hand, not even a cell phone.
"There is nothing about what we know," Rodriguez said, "that would give police a free pass to shoot an unarmed 22-year-old boy in the head."