A male sex offender is dead after being involved in an officer-involved shooting at the 1200 block of Muirswood Way in Modesto on July 12th. The suspect, 68-year-old David Mendez, passed away on July 26th at a local hospital after he received emergency surgery to treat multiple wounds.
The suspect was shot by Detective Steven Anderson after the suspect attempted to assault him. Detective Anderson, a member of the Modesto Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, and Officer Ron Lemings, a uniformed patrol officer, had originally arrived at the suspect’s residence to arrest him on a felony sex crime.
Mendez, who was home alone, told the officers he had a written confession note for them and walked to a nearby desk in the front living room area, near the front entryway. But instead of taking out the confession, Mendez proceeded to take out a “diver’s knife” and began to stab himself in the neck, thrusting it in and out with both of his hands.
In order to try to immobilize Mendez, Officer Lemings deployed his taser, which proved ineffective. Mendez then raised the knife above his head in a threatening manner, as he faced the officers. Detective Anderson responded to the threat by discharging his firearm and striking Mendez from 10 feet away.
Even after the suspect was shot, Mendez refused to surrender his weapon until officers made repeated demands for him to drop the knife. He was provided medical and treatment and transportation to the local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries two weeks later. The cause of death remains under investigation pending review of all medical records.
Upon conducting the follow-up investigation, officers did find a confession/suicide note in the drawer where Mendez had retrieved the knife. The note detailed his involvement in the sex crime and his intentions to kill himself rather than be arrested. While evidence suggests that Mendez may have tried to commit “suicide by cop,” a tactic by which a suspect threatens an officer to compel the use of deadly force, investigators will never be able to confirm their suspicions because of Mendez’s death.
The Modesto Police Department, the Stanislaus County Attorney’s Office, and the Modesto Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division are all conducting independent investigations on this incident in accordance standard protocol in an officer involved shooting in Stanislaus County. Detective Anderson has also followed standard procedure and taken a one week paid administrative leave for his involvement in the shooting, and has since returned.
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