The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced on Monday that a non-lethal shooting of a suspect by a California Highway Patrol officer in Keyes was justified.
Francisco Hurtado was shot on March 15, 2018 on the Keyes Road overpass in the aftermath of a vehicle pursuit. Hurtado survived the gunshot wound and is currently facing criminal charges.
The incident began around 11 p.m. when CHP Officers Edgardo Yepez and Michael Randazzo attempted to stop a speeding 2005 Cadillac Escalade driven by Hurtado.
The CHP officers tried to pull Hurtado over but he sped off. His initial speed was around 80 miles per hour as he accelerated away from the patrol car, according to the district attorney’s office.
A short pursuit ensued with Hurtado driving extremely recklessly in and out of traffic. Hurtado outran the patrol car but lost control of his SUV and drove through a guardrail. The SUV rolled down an embankment and came to rest on the vehicle’s roof.
The officers approached the crash scene on foot and saw Hurtado was trapped in the vehicle, but not in his seat. Randazzo spotted a gun on the floor and yelled out a warning of “gun” to his partner.
“Off. Yepez was looking through the back and could see Hurtado crouched down in the driver’s compartment (in effect standing on the SUV’s roof which was now functioning as the floor),” the district attorney’s office wrote in their report. “Off. Yepez saw the gun next to Hurtado and watched as Hurtado reached for the gun. Hurtado was able to grab the gun and Off. Yepez then fired his weapon at him. Hurtado was struck and dropped the gun.”
Hurtado’s gun was a .380 Walther PPK handgun and was loaded. A blood test showed Hurtado was under the influence of cocaine and marijuana.
In her summary, District Attorney Birgit Fladager concluded that: “Off. Yepez and Off. Randazzo were performing their jobs as police officers which allowed them to stop Hurtado. However, Hurtado refused to stop and instead led the officers on a short-lived high-speed chase. Hurtado’s dangerous driving constituted a felony and converted a simple traffic stop into a dangerous situation for all of those on the road that night. The fact that Hurtado crashed his car is evidence of the reckless nature of his actions. When Off. Yepez and Off. Randazzo approached and attempted to render aid they were greeted by Hurtado laying in wait. Hurtado had no need to reach for the gun and his action of grabbing the gun demonstrated an intent to use it against the officers. The use of force by Off. Yepez to protect himself and his partner was measured and in direct response to the threat he perceived. It was reasonable and justified. Under these circumstances, the shooting of Hurtado is determined to be justified.”