Suspect shot by Modesto police following chase

September 6, 2011 

— Modesto police shot a pickup driver after a high-speed chase to and from Turlock early Monday. The injured suspect was reported in stable condition, and no one else was injured.

Police did not release the suspect's name nor the names of the three officers who shot at him.

The incident began about 12:19 a.m. near west Modesto's Mellis Park, where an officer on patrol reported hearing several gunshots. The officer said he saw a tan Ford F-150 pickup flee the scene. He tried to stop the truck, and the chase began.

The man driving the pickup went on Highway 99, then south to Turlock before turning around and coming back to Modesto, said Modesto police Lt. Rick Armendariz, a department spokesman.

Police said that during the pursuit west on Tuolumne Boulevard, the truck rammed a police car. Officers reported using a "pursuit immobilization technique" — like a spike strip — to deflate at least one of the pickup's tires.

That stopped the pickup between Fresno and Merced avenues near Modesto Municipal Golf Course. Armendariz said the pickup was wedged against a tree.

Armendariz said officers ordered the man to surrender, but he did not comply. Three officers then shot at the suspect. Police did not reveal how many times or where the man was hit.

After taking the man into custody, the suspect was taken to a hospital. Police said he was in stable condition.

What led officers to begin shooting is being investigated, Armendariz said. He could not say whether the suspect had a weapon or threatened officers after the pickup stopped. A search warrant was sought Monday to allow police to search the truck.

The three officers were placed on paid administrative leave, which is the department's policy while shootings are investigated. Armendariz said the officers' names will be made public in a couple of days.

Three independent investigations have been launched, which is standard for officer-involved shootings in Stanislaus County.

Modesto police will conduct a criminal investigation; the Stanislaus County district attorney's office will investigate the incident and the officers' actions; and the Modesto Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit will launch an administrative investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Armendariz said detectives are following up on the initial report of shots fired near Mellis Park. The park is about one mile northwest of where the suspect was shot by police 35 minutes later, after the chase.

Modesto police were involved in one other shooting this year and five shootings last year. In the most recent case, May 24, an officer shot a man to death who was suspected of holding up a Coffee Road convenience store clerk and fleeing into a neighborhood.

Also in Stanislaus County this year, two California Highway Patrol officers fatally shot suspects.

Anyone with information about Monday's shooting is asked to call Modesto police Detective Jon Evers at (209) 572-9534.

Bee online news editor Brian Clark can be reached at (209) 578-2362. Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at jnsbranti@modbee.com or (209) 578-2196.


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