A long investigation into Saturday’s deadly police shooting of an armed Hughson teenager has been initiated by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
One Ceres Police officer, whose name has not been released, fatally shot 15-year-old Spencer Carmen Mendez at the conclusion of a chase from Ceres to the rural Denair area after bailing from a car with a car in hand. It is not clear if Mendez fired the gun or pointed it at the officer, said Sheriff’s Department spokesman Tom Letras.
The incident started shortly after 4 p.m. when Ceres Police were dispatched to the skate park inside Smyrna Park in Ceres to check out a report of a male in a dark-colored Lexus sedan who had brandished a gun. As officers were responding to the park, another call was received by Ceres Police dispatchers about a black Lexus hitting a second car near Whitmore Avenue and Mitchell Road and fleeing. A witness followed the Lexus and provided real-time information to dispatchers as to its location. A Ceres Police Officer spotted the vehicle and attempted to stop it but the driver ignored the unit and led him on a high-speed pursuit towards Hughson.
The chase ended on Sperry Road just north of Service Road where the 15-year-old immediately exited the vehicle and was armed with a handgun. The Ceres Police Officer, who was alone at the scene, fired at the suspect, striking him at least once.
Other officers quickly arrived on scene and assisted the officer in detaining four persons still inside the car.
Paramedics were dispatched and were unsuccessful in saving his life. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Inside the car police located several stolen firearms.
Stanislaus Sheriff’s Department detectives and Stanislaus District Attorney Investigators were dispatched to the scene to investigate the shooting.
The four occupants were interviewed at the Sheriff’s Department. Two male juveniles and a female juvenile were released to their parent/guardian with no charges currently pending. A fourth occupant, Jose Robles, 20, of Hickman, was arrested on an unrelated misdemeanor warrant.
The elderly woman in the car hit by the Lexus in Ceres was treated for minor injuries at a local hospital.
The Ceres officer, who was placed on paid administrative leave as per their department policy, was not injured.
Friends and family members of Mendez gathered on the site of the shooting where they set up a makeshift memorial.
Ceres Police Department will do an internal review of this incident.
If anyone has information regarding this case, please contact Detective Sulkowski at 525-7032.