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Manteca officer cleared in fatal shooting
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The Manteca Police Officer who killed a 59-year-old Manteca man that was rushing at him with a knife on Highway 99 in February of 2017 was cleared on Tuesday of any wrongdoing. 

In a report released by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office, Manteca Police motorcycle officer Mitchell Ellis was determined to have justifiably fired his duty weapon at Jose Feliciano after attempts by California Highway Patrol officer Christopher Allen to subdue him with a Taser were unsuccessful and the man continued to advance towards Ellis with the knife raised in a threatening fashion. 

“In applying the prevailing legal standards, the totality of the circumstances, and in light of all of the evidence obtained from the multi-task force investigation, it is the opinion of the District Attorney that the force used by CHP Officer Allen with regard to the TASER, and the lethal use of force by MPD Officer Ellis on February 15, 2017, was justified, and that no criminal charges are warranted,” the report, which was published on March 25, read. 

According to the report, video documentation from Officer Ellis’ body worn camera was reviewed by investigators, and showed that Feliciano, after the second deployment of Allen’s Taser, began rushing at him before changing directions and ran directly towards Ellis. The video shows Ellis, a 9-year-veteran of the Manteca Police Department that serves on its SWAT team and is the Manteca Police Range Officer, yelling commands at Feliciano – pleading with him to stop what he is doing – as he continued to advance. 

The report stated that by the time that Ellis fired his weapon – three shots in rapid succession, all three of which struck Feliciano in the upper torso – the man had closed the gap to within six feet of the officer.

According to the 21-foot-rule, which has been used by law enforcement officers for decades, a suspect with a knife that is less than 21-feet away from an officer with a holstered weapon has the ability to stab the officer before they can get their weapon out of the holster and fire a defensive shot. While Ellis already had his weapon out and was providing lethal cover to Allen so that he could safely deploy his less-than-lethal Taser device, evidence collected in the investigation from Ellis’ body camera confirmed the statements from both officers involved in the altercation as well as witnesses that were on scene for the duration of the incident. 

After the shooting, life-saving measures were administered by officers until paramedics could respond to the scene and take over, and the initial attempts were successful – he was transported to the San Joaquin General Hospital, where he was in critical condition for more than a week before succumbing to his injuries. 

Witness reports at the time of the shooting that Feliciano appeared suicidal were backed up by the report that detailed how the man was requesting for Allen, the CHP officer that initially responded to the call of a pedestrian walking in the roadway, to shoot him. The report also detailed how the witness that was on scene when officers arrived informed them that Feliciano had told him that morning that he had lost his mind before running out of the house. That witness, according to the District Attorney’s report, told officers that Feliciano was having a PCP flashback based on his previous drug abuse history and the repetitive nature of the incident – noting that friends and family members never know how long they last, and that they just “have to ride it out.” 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.