Stanislaus County sheriff’s detectives were investigating a deadly shooting Sunday after a pursuit ended in south Modesto with an apparent crash and two Ceres police officers firing their guns at a suspect.
The officers fired their guns at the driver of the fleeing vehicle, who was injured and taken to a local hospital where he died, according to sheriff’s officials.
The sister of the man who died in the shooting said her brother had been drinking alcohol earlier that night, but he should not have been shot for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Sheriff’s officials are investigating the shooting, because it occurred in an unincorporated neighborhood.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Anthony Bejaran said detectives on Sunday afternoon were still gathering information to determine why the pursuit was initiated what happened during the police chase, how it ended or why the officers fired their guns. Sheriff’s officials did not release further information about the chase.
Authorities also did not release the name of the man who died in the shooting. Bejaran said his name would be released pending proper family notification.
However, he was identified as Nicholas Adam Pimentel, 27, of Modesto, according to Pimentel’s sister, Summer Pimentel. She spoke to The Bee by phone from her Florida home Sunday.
She said her brother was in a Chevrolet pickup with his girlfriend when the pursuit occurred early Sunday. She admitted her brother should not have been drinking earlier that night, but he shouldn’t have been killed for driving drunk.
Authorities have not said what happened immediately after the chase ended with a crash on Imperial Avenue and Ustick Road. Stanislaus Superior Court records indicate Nicholas Pimentel pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge and obstructing or resisting a peace officer or emergency personnel for a 2012 incident.
Pimentel’s sister said her brother grew up in the same south Modesto neighborhood where the shooting occurred. She said he has a 7-year-old son, and her brother was fun, outgoing man who liked to joke around.
At 1:08 a.m., Ceres police officers were reportedly pursuing the vehicle in an unincorporated area. It’s unclear where the chase began; that information was not available Sunday.
The police chase had ended near the intersection of Imperial Avenue and Ustick Road in south Modesto. About 1:10 a.m., the officers radioed that they had been involved in a shooting.
“That’s really most of the information that we're releasing right now,” Bejaran said Sunday afternoon “Detectives still need to get some work done; they need to determine why the pursuit started and how they ended up on Imperial and Ustick.”
Nearby residents said the pickup crashed with parked vehicles in front of homes. One neighbor said it appeared that the police patrol cars struck the pickup in a maneuver forcing the pickup off the road.
“They f------ jumped out of their cars and started shooting the kid,” said the neighbor, who declined to give his name. “People down here aren’t going to talk (about this shooting), because you don’t want anyone messing with you. That’s just the way it is; that’s how you get by living here.”
The neighborhood is filled with longtime residents and newcomers who are law-abiding and work hard to support their families. But many of the residents in south Modesto are reluctant to speak openly about the incidents that happen in their neighborhood, which has been plagued by crime and drug activity.
Bejaran said it’s possible pursuing authorities performed a maneuver to force the vehicle off the road, but he could not verify the neighbor’s account Sunday.
The officers were not injured in the incident. They have been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard procedure with all officer-involved shootings. Three independent investigations have been launched into this incident.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is conducting the criminal investigation, the Ceres Police Department the administrative investigation and the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office an independent review.
This is the second fatal officer-involved shooting involving an officer with the Ceres Police Department in the last 20 months..
On Jan. 5, 2016, officers shot and killed a man at a Don Pedro Road apartment complex. The man was running from officers when he reached for an “item” in his waist and officers opened fired. Albert Thompson, 28, died at the scene. The item turned out to be a hand torch.
The officers, Justin Canatsy and Jesus Salinas, were later cleared of any wrongdoing by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff’s officials ask anyone with information about Sunday's police pursuit and the shooting to call Detective Kamila Sulkowski at (209) 575-7032.
Click here for the 2017 Stanislaus County homicide map.
Bee Online Editor Brian Clark contributed to this report.