California woman shot and killed after officers mistakenly identified her as shooting suspect, police say

A California police official defended the actions of the officers who shot and killed a woman who allegedly led them on a chase in a stolen car after she was mistaken for the suspect in a shooting.

San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia also expressed his condolences to the family of 24-year-old Jenny Vasquez, of San Jose, on Thursday, according to KTVU. Police said the incident began early Tuesday as officers were investigating a shooting in the city. Witnesses told police the shooting suspect was driving a white sedan.

"The first arriving officer was flagged down by a citizen who pointed Southbound on Clemence Avenue at a white vehicle leaving the scene, indicating to the officer it was the suspect vehicle," Garcia said.

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Police followed a white Toyota Camry that was being driven by Vasquez and soon discovered the car had been reported stolen. Vasquez’s family have disputed the claim and said she was driving a friend’s car. Police said Vasquez led them on a high-speed chase which ended after she crashed into a fence. Garcia said the woman did not obey orders from the officers.

"The suspect driver then rammed the patrol car with the Toyota using it as a deadly weapon and causing four officers to fire in an attempt to stop the driver," Garcia said.

Vasquez was shot and killed and the passenger, Linda Bueno, 28, of San Jose, was transported to the hospital with injuries.

Garcia said officers discovered later that Vasquez had nothing to do with the shooting. Police have not immediately released any information about the initial shooting.

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“Given the circumstances...it was reasonable and justified for the officers to feel that their lives were in danger,” Garcia said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “Had these individuals just complied with the officers, would have stopped, this would have ended up very differently.”

The District Attorney’s office and the San Jose Police homicide unit are investigating the incident. The four officers involved in the shooting were put on paid administrative leave pending an investigation. The body-camera footage will be released following a probe, police said.