Attorney: Helicopter video raises serious doubts about police actions during 2013 fatal shooting

Jonathan Vasquez shot by SDPD officers

SAN DIEGO - Dramatic new video obtained by Team 10 is raising questions about the deadly conclusion to a police chase in Encanto last year.

The woman who survived several of gunshots at the end of the January 2013 pursuit said the video is proof that San Diego police officers were trigger-happy.

Team 10 obtained the helicopter video as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging excessive force. In the police helicopter footage, a police unit is seen closing in on a stolen car -- a pursuit that began with an attempted traffic stop for speeding.

"He's going to crash," a voice is heard saying in the helicopter.

Near a dead end, the car veers into a front lawn, and three SDPD officers are seen leaving their cars.

As the driver moves forward, the officer in front of the car trips and the car comes to a sudden stop, stuck in a tree stump.

A few seconds later, white flashes -- a hail of gunfire -- can be seen.

"Next thing you know all these gunshots. It was like 8 to 9 shots," said Victor Cuadros, who lives on the property where the chase ended.

The driver, 21-year-old Jonathan Vasquez, died at the scene. His brother, in the backseat, was uninjured.

Dragged out by her hair was Vasquez's 19-year-old girlfriend, Silvia Fletes. She was shot in the shoulder and arm.

"She was scared about what was going on because she didn't know what was going on," said Alvin Gomez, Fletes' attorney.

Gomez said a stunned Fletes had no clue the vehicle was stolen and had no idea why officers fired at her.

"They behaved outrageously," said Gomez.

Gomez said police mistakenly got out of their cars when the suspect car was still moving.

Police initially told 10News the car was charging at them, but Gomez said the video clearly shows the car had been stalled for several seconds when police first fired.

"The most outrageous part is they shot an unarmed passenger just sitting there," said Gomez.

Gomez said Fletes was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, including depression, anxiety and nightmares.

Team 10 investigator Michael Chen asked, "Vasquez is speeding in a stolen car. He isn't stopping. Isn't this a situation that can escalate?"

"It can escalate, but that doesn't mean they have to use deadly force," said Gomez.

According to police, the district attorney cleared the officers, deeming their actions justified.

All three officers involved are back on duty.

Team 10 reached out to the San Diego City Attorney's Office for a comment, but the office did not call back.

The civil trial is expected to take place sometime in 2015.

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