Last month, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office formally cleared a Manteca Police officer that fatally shot a man on Highway 99 near the Lathrop Road interchange of any wrongdoing.
And on Friday, the Manteca Police Department released the bodycam footage from Officer Mitchell Ellis that shows him firing three shots at 58-year-old Jose Feliciano as the man advanced towards officers with his knife a hand – ending a tense stand-off in which attempts by a CHP officer to subdue him with a Taser device failed.
The video – which is almost 18 minutes long – shows the incident from February of 2017 starting when Ellis arrived on scene. It was posted to YouTube and viewed almost 2,000 times on Friday and was used by the investigators that ultimately determined that Ellis used his weapon in self-defense to protect his life and the life of other officers who has responded to the call.
In addition to showing the state of Feliciano when Ellis arrived on his motorcycle – the camera pointed towards Feliciano in a heated discussion with a family member in the middle of the closed freeway – it also shows Ellis’ discussions with CHP Officer Christopher Allen who was already on-scene and made multiple attempts to end the standoff without lethal force.
It takes almost 30 seconds before the video’s sound kicks in, and Feliciano’s screaming can be heard as can his requests to be shot by Allen, who did the majority of the interaction with the man before attempting to subdue him.
It isn’t until 2:36 into the video that Ellis’ firearm is visible – appearing just after Allen fired his Taser at the man, and he turned to advance towards him – and three seconds later Feliciano turns with the knife raised and begins to advance towards Ellis, prompting him to fire what would turn out to be fatal shots. At the time the first bullet strikes Feliciano in the midsection, he was well within the 21-foot radius that police officers try to avoid when confronting a suspect with the knife.
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.
The release of the video substantiated the report released last month by the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office, down to Ellis’ final words to Feliciano before he fired: “No – don’t – stop.”
Interestingly, Ellis appeared to not only protect the lives of Allen and himself, but the other Manteca Police officers who responded and were walking behind Feliciano just before he fired the fatal shots. Roughly 20 seconds before the moment that he discharged his gun, Ellis can be seen directing the officers approaching from the other side of the freeway to get out of what ended up being the line of fire.
It was those two officers who ultimately handcuffed Feliciano and removed the knife from his person before beginning the process of administering life-saving aid as paramedics were dispatched.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.