California officer cleared in 2nd fatal shooting in months
CERES, Calif. (AP) — A Northern California district attorney has declined to file charges against a police officer who fatally shot a 15-year-old boy in 2018, officials said.
The shooting came just months after the officer and his sergeant opened fire on a 27-year-old man and killed him in 2017.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office deemed that the shooting of teenager Carmen “Spencer” Mendez by Ceres Police Officer Ross Bays to be justified.
Bays was also cleared in the fatal 2017 shooting of Nicholas Pimentel, who had been fleeing police in a vehicle when he was shot.
The city of Ceres has agreed to pay both families a total of $4.1 million in civil settlements.
In the Mendez case, the teen had jumped out of a car after a police chase and ran into a field. The vehicle had been connected to previous incidents, including a burglary where several guns had been stolen, according to the district attorney’s office.
Bays had believed the car’s occupants were armed and dangerous and felt like he was getting into an ambush, the DA’s office wrote.
The officer told investigators he saw Mendez carrying a gun in the field. Body camera footage shows that Bays opened fire without giving the teen a warning.
A toxicology report found that Mendez had alcohol and marijuana in his system when he died, prosecutors wrote. Investigators were not able to determine if Mendez was involved in the burglary where the guns were stolen, though he was brandishing one that had been taken.