For release on April 25, 2014
Brian Welch, Supervising Deputy District Attorney
It was later determined that Elias Mejia, 26, shot to death a man less than a week before the known San Jose Norteno gang member was killed by the officer.
In a 23-page report, prosecutors determined that Officer Bruce Barthelemy – a member of a specialized violent crimes unit called METRO - shot Mejia while fearing for his safety and the safety of others.
The District Attorney’s Office investigates all fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal. By law, officers are allowed to use deadly force when they believe that a fleeing violent felon is a dangerous threat.
During the early morning hours of March 11, 2013, Daniel Canales, 44, was shot and killed outside of a home in San Jose. Within a short time San Jose police had identified Mejia – a known member of the “Julian Street Posse”- as the murderer.
On March 18, 2013, a METRO squad began a surveillance of a San Jose home associated with the suspect. Within two hours a stolen Honda pulled up. Two men went inside the home. One of them was Mejia. They left and drove away.
Within a few blocks, officers tried to stop the car. Mejia – the driver – crashed into police cars as he tried to escape. His passenger reported that Mejia told him “They’re not going to get me.” At one point, an officer had to leap out of the way of the car to avoid being hit. Unsure if his partner was injured, Officer Barthelemy stood in front of the car with his gun drawn and ordered Mejia to stop.
Making eye contact, Mejia revved the engine and accelerated toward the officer. Fearing for his life, Officer Barthelemy sidestepped the onrushing vehicle and fired his weapon once, through the passenger window. The single bullet fatally struck Mejia in the head. The car sped past, so close the firing officer could have touched it, before it struck a parked car and stopped. The passenger was uninjured.