MERCED -- Investigators on Sunday identified the attempted carjacking suspect killed by Turlock police the day before as a 30-year-old parolee.
Joseph Davis had been in and out of jail and state prison on drug, burglary and car theft charges, Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said Sunday. Three Turlock officers opened fire on Davis on Saturday morning after chasing him from Turlock into northern Merced County.
Turlock Police Chief Rob Jackson on Sunday identified the officers as Sgt. Scott Ellis, an 11-year veteran of the department, and Queray McMihelk and Manpreet Kaur, both five-year veterans. They have been placed on leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.
Cpl. Dave Shaw was shot in the leg during the incident, Jackson said. He is recovering at home.
Pazin said it was not clear who fired the bullet that hit Shaw, whether it was Davis or another officer.
"It's very early in our investigation," he said.
But he did say investigators recovered a gun from Davis.
According to authorities, Turlock police had been looking for Davis, who had been involved in another chase in that city earlier in the week. They found him early Saturday at the Venice Motel on Golden State Boulevard. He got into a stolen black Honda and left the motel.
Officers followed Davis west on Fulkerth Road, then south on Highway 99. He got off at Bradbury Road, then stopped the Honda on the overpass and tried to carjack a pickup approaching the other way, police said.
Officers said they saw Davis with a gun at the motel and he shot into the pickup in an attempt to take it from the driver. Police fired at Davis, who was declared dead at the scene.
A witness disputed officers' version of events, saying that when the suspect got out of the Honda, "it was obvious he did not have a gun in his hand."
Mark Gutierrez said he didn't see the suspect fire on the red pickup or hear police ordering him to surrender.
Pazin expressed frustration over Gutierrez's comments, saying he wished the witness would have contacted detectives instead of the media.
"If he was so concerned, why didn't he stick around and talk to us?" Pazin said.
Deputy Tom McKenzie, a sheriff's spokesman, said Sunday that Gutierrez hadn't contacted detectives, and they were trying to get in touch with him and the employee with him Saturday morning.
Second witness saw gun
A second witness said the suspect definitely was armed.
"It was a huge handgun," said Matt Beekman, who runs a beekeeping business in Hughson and serves on the City Council. Beekman said he and an employee were driving south on Highway 99 en route to Madera when the pursuit overtook them.
"We saw seven Turlock police cars flying down 99 and a black Honda behind us," Beekman said Sunday. "We pulled over to the side of the road, and he kept on going."
After the chase passed them, Beekman and his employee got back on the highway and soon saw the Honda get off at the Bradbury exit.
"When that guy got out of the car he had a gun," Beekman said. "He went running toward the red pickup. He runs over to the passenger's side and is pulling on the door, trying to get in. The policeman is walking around the tail end of the pickup truck with his gun raised."
At that point, Beekman's car went under the overpass and the men heard gunshots.
Beekman said the suspect clearly was a threat to officers and the pickup driver. Beekman said he has been working over the weekend but planned to get in touch with detectives.
"Without a doubt," Beekman said, "this was a bad dude."
McKenzie said Davis was a Merced County resident and believed he lived in Winton.
Davis' family could not be reached for comment Sunday. Jackson said he wanted to extend condolences to them.
"We still need to remember that a family in this community lost a family member in a very tragic event," he said.
The Merced County Sheriff's Department is handling the criminal investigation because the shooting took place in that county. The Turlock Police Department is conducting an administrative investigation.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2343.