Friday, December 31, 2010

Modesto Police YET shoot again - Man in Critical Condition!

Man shot by Modesto officer still in critical condition
By Rosalio Ahumada

UPDATE: The man shot by a Modesto Police Department officer on Hagstrom Court on Thursday remained in critical condition this morning, according to officer Scott Nelson.

Nelson received the victim update at 7 a.m.

The department spokesman released no further details about the incident, but expected to have an update sometime Friday afternoon, he said.

A police officer shot and critically injured an armed man Thursday evening after a disturbance call ended in a confrontation at a northeast Modesto home, a Police Department spokesman said.

The man, in his early 40s, was taken by ambulance to nearby Memorial Medical Center in Modesto, officer Scott Nelson said.

Police did not release the man’s name or his exact age. No other injuries were reported.

The incident — the department's eighth officer-involved shooting since last December — occurred shortly before 5:30 p.m. at the home in the 1800 block of Hagstrom Court, just north of Briggsmore Avenue and east of Rose Avenue.

Police received a report of a man and a woman involved in a disturbance at the home. Nelson said the woman reported the man was threatening to commit suicide.

It was unclear whether the incident was a domestic dispute. Police had not confirmed the relationship between the man and the woman.

Nelson said two officers arrived at the home and confronted the man, who was armed. He declined to say what weapon the man was carrying, but he did say no shots were fired at the officers.

Initial reports suggest the man was uncooperative, Nelson said. One of the officers fired his weapon, hitting the man. The woman involved was not hit by gunfire, and she was cooperating with investigators.

Police declined to release any further details about the shooting. Nelson said investigators were still interviewing witnesses, so releasing more information Thursday night could hurt the investigation.

About 7 p.m., officers were canvassing the neighborhood looking for more witnesses.

Yellow crime scene tape was tied around the front yard of the home as patrols cars blocked off the street. The officers involved in the shooting were placed on paid administrative leave, per department policy. Their names were not released.

Stanislaus County district attorney’s investigators were at the scene, which also is standard procedure in officer-involved shootings.

Including Thursday’s shooting, the Modesto Police Department has had 14 officer-involved shootings in the past three years.

Earlier this month, Modesto police said 10 of those before Thursday's incident were ruled justified by the Police Department and the district attorney’s office. The other shootings were in various stages of review.

On Dec. 11, four Modesto police officers shot into the cab of a pickup truck, killing the driver, Jesse Eugene Watson, 36, of San Jose and wounding a woman in the passenger seat.

Authorities say the truck had fled the scene of a burglary and crashed into a power pole after a high-speed pursuit. The driver then drove in reverse toward the officers and rammed a police car, prompting the officers to fire.

Prior to that Modesto police shooting, two officers responding to reports of an intoxicated man wielding a knife shot him in a southeast Modesto home on Sept. 6.

Francisco Moran, 45, of Modesto was holding a metal spatula when he lunged at the officers, not a knife. He died of his injuries.

Nelson said each officer-involved shooting is tragic, and the department owes it to the public to thoroughly investigate and evaluate each case separately.

“We try not just to look at the frequency,” Nelson said. “We have to look at each incident individually.”

The latest shooting comes as a probe of the department is being conducted into allegations of police brutality in an anonymous letter received by city officials.

The city hired Palo Alto attorney Bob Aaronson to investigate the claims against four officers. The anonymous letter also claims department managers looked the other way despite the alleged incidents involving the officers.

Aaronson has launched his Modesto investigation.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at or 578-2394.

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