Fresno's Police Chief defends officer shooting unarmed man

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say the suspect, 31 year old Angelo Fernandez, was shot in the back by an officer after a brief chase. He is still recovering in the hospital, but remains in police custody.

Saturday's shooting outside the East Central Fresno grocery store is the city's third officer involved shooting this year. But, it's the first one, where the suspect was unarmed.

Dyer said, "It is our belief at least at this point in time, that the officers' actions were reasonable under the circumstances."

Police Chief Jerry Dyer says, investigators had been looking for Angelo Fernandez since May 22, alleging he was involved in a car-jacking and shooting. Plain clothes officers trailed him to an apartment Saturday--but didn't immediately take him into custody.

Dyer said, "They set up on that location and when there were three people who came out of the apartment, two males and one female, they didn't get a good look at who got into the car, but suspected in might be their suspect."

Officers followed the three to the shopping center. In surveillance footage, you'll only see on Action News, they wait until the group leaves a 96 cents store, before moving in on Fernandez. But in the video, you can see Fernandez run to the other side of the parking lot. That's when officers chased him down, and one fired a single shot into his back.

Dyer said, "When Fernandez turned and started running towards the store, the officer felt that if he was allowed to get away, possibly armed, get inside of that store, that he could create a hostage situation."

Chief Dyer says his officers were well aware of Fernandez's criminal past, which includes felony auto theft and threatening an officer. Dyer adds, Fernandez made previous statements alleging he would not go back to prison and would instead shoot it out with officers.

ABC-30 legal analyst, Tony Capozzi says if the suspect decides to file suit, the case will likely never go to court.

Tony Capozzi said, "I think the police officers did the right thing in this case. They were looking to protect others and protect themselves."

The officer who shot Fernandez is on paid administrative leave. Meanwhile, this case will be reviewed by the city's police auditor. That investigation will take between two and three months.

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