Team 10 investigates January 2013 police chase in Encanto

Woman says police were trigger happy

ENCANTO - Dramatic new video obtained by Team 10 is raising questions about a deadly conclusion to a police chase in Encanto.  

The woman who survived several of those gunshots said the video is proof 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 after 1 a.m. in January 2013. The pursuit began with an attempted traffic stop for speeding.

“He's going to crash,” a voice can be heard saying in the helicopter.

Near a dead end, the car veered into a front lawn prompting three officers to leave their cars.     

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

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

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

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

Vasquez' 19-year-old girlfriend Silvia Fletes, who is shot in the shoulder and arm, is then dragged out by her hair.

“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 no idea why they fired at her.           

“They behaved outrageously,” Gomez said.

Gomez says police mistakenly got out of their cars when the suspected 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,” Gomez said.

Gomez said Fletes was diagnosed with PTSD, including depression, anxiety and nightmares.          

According to police, the district attorney did clear the officers who are back on duty, deeming their actions justified.

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

The City Attorney's office didn't respond to requests for comment.

 

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