A San Jose police officer lawfully shot and killed a fleeing murder suspect who almost ran him down in a stolen car, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has concluded.
Officer Bruce Barthelemy feared for his safety and the safety of others when he shot gang member Elias Mejia, 26, slightly more than a year ago, according to a 23-page report prepared by prosecutor Brian Welch and released Friday by District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
The officer-involved shooting occurred after Mejia shot and killed shot a man just one week before, on March 11, 2013, investigators concluded.
Suspecting Mejia had killed Daniel Canales, 44, a specialized violent-crimes unit called METRO began watching a house he was known to frequent in the early morning hours of March 18, 2013.
Two hours later, Mejia and another man pulled up in a stolen Honda. When they left, officers tried to stop the car. Mejia, the driver, crashed into police cars as he tried to flee. An officer had to leap out of the way to avoid being hit.
Barthelemy, fearing that his partner had been struck by Mejia's car, pulled his gun and ordered him to stop. But Mejia revved his engine and accelerated toward the officer, who sidestepped the oncoming vehicle and shot Mejia through the passenger window. The bullet hit Mejia in the head, and the vehicle sped within inches of Barthelemy before hitting a parked car.
Later, Mejia's passenger told police Mejia had said, "They're not going to get me."
Police are allowed by law to use deadly force when they believe a fleeing violent felon is a dangerous threat to public safety.
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport