By City News Service
A 40-year-old motorist who was shot by officers in Mount Hope at the end of a vehicle chase on Thursday died from his injuries Saturday, police said.
Jose Luis Navarro of Lemon Grove had been in critical condition, said Lt. Mike Hastings to the San Diego Police Department's Homicide Unit.
Navarro was driving a 2002 orange Saturn sedan about 8:30 a.m. Thursday when he refused to yield for a traffic stop and then led officers on a meandering hour-long chase that ended with him wounded in a fusillade of police gunfire after he allegedly brandished a handgun, police said.
Navarro, who had a female passenger with him, sped off when a San Diego police sergeant tried to pull him over on Grape Street in Oak Park for using a cellphone while he was driving, SDPD public affairs Lt. Kevin Mayer said.
While chasing the vehicle, police determined that it matched the description of one linked to a shooting that wounded two men in a Mountain View- area neighborhood Monday night.
The fleeing man ran stoplights while passing through parts of Paradise Hills, Bonita and National City, Mayer said. At one point, he pulled over long enough to let his companion out, then sped off again. The suspect drove over several tire-flattening spike strips laid out in his path before finally slowing to a halt on 41st Street at Hilltop Drive.
During the chase, officers learned the suspect was in possession of a handgun, Hastings said.
"As the vehicle stopped in the 800 block of 41st Street, the suspect raised the gun towards officers," Hastings said. "Fearing for their safety, the safety of the public, and the safety of other officers, four San Diego police officers discharged their weapons striking the suspect."
Video broadcast by 10News captured images of the car stopping in the roadway with squad cars directly behind it, their sirens screaming. A moment later, a man shouted, and officers opened fire, discharging about two dozen rounds in quick succession at the front and passenger side of the red sedan.
Witness Frankie Martinez described watching as the barrage of police gunfire began, then jumping onto the ground to protect himself.
"(The driver) just stopped, and they started shooting at him," Martinez told NBC 7. "Everybody started unloading on him. He got smoked. He probably did something bad for that to happen. They didn't even give him a chance."
Medics loaded the wounded man onto a stretcher and took him to a trauma center.
"The suspect's firearm was located at the scene along with what is
believed to be controlled substance," Hastings said.
The officers who opened fire have been with the San Diego Police Department for six, seven, nine and 24 years, he said.