SJPD says woman fatally shot after police chase wasn't suspect in earlier shooting

David Louie Image
Friday, December 28, 2018
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The women pursued by police turned out not to be the suspects involved in an earlier shooting.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia held an early Thursday afternoon news conference to detail, for the first time, what happened when officers shot two women who allegedly led police on a 5-mile chase early Christmas morning.

A 24-year-old woman was killed and a second woman, who is 28, was wounded. The woman killed has been identified by her family as Jennifer Vasquez.

RELATED: Woman dead, another injured in San Jose after officer-involved shooting following chase

Both were residents of San Jose.

The shooting happened at Leigh & Fruitdale avenues near the San Jose City College campus.

San Jose police had been investigating reports of shots fired on Story Road in east San Jose, and a witness pointed to a white vehicle leaving the scene as possibly containing the shooter or shooters.

Police officers pursued the vehicle, which led to a high-speed chase that lasted seven minutes.

The white Camry crashed into a chain link fence at Leigh and Fruitdale avenues, at which time the driver rammed the car into a police car.

The chief said four officers shot at the vehicle, killing the driver and wounding the passenger.

"Every time we take a life, it is tragic," Chief Garcia said, adding that he has compassion for family members of the two women.

It turned out no gun was found inside the white Camry, and they were not the suspects wanted in connection with the earlier shooting on Story Road.

"I know people will be outraged," the Chief said. But he said, given the chase and the effort to use the car to strike a police vehicle, the officers' decision to shoot at the occupant was "reasonable and justified" in light that the officers' lives were in jeopardy.

All four officers had operational body-worn cameras. The video is in the possession of the District Attorney's office for review.