For release on September 2, 2020
Deputy District Attorney
DA Report: Officers Lawfully Shoot Man Who Drove Stolen Car into Officer
San Jose police officers lawfully shot and killed a man last year as he drove a stolen car into a police sergeant, the District Attorney’s Office has determined.
That day, Efren Esquivel, 24, stole a sheriff’s deputy’s personal car as it idled unoccupied outside her home. After being found, he refused to surrender when surrounded by officers and then tried to smash his way out of the blockade with the car. Before he ran over the officer he yelled, “You’re gonna have to shoot me” or “You’re gonna have to kill me.”
An autopsy determined that Esquivel was intoxicated with “a near-toxic” level of methamphetamines.
Prosecutor Rob Baker wrote in the 30-page report: “When he drove at Sergeant (James) Mason at high speed, the officers had no other recourse to save Sergeant Mason than to discharge their firearms. Had they not fired, the vehicle likely would not have come to a stop, allowing Esquivel to inflict greater injury to Sergeant Mason and possibly hit additional officers as he attempted to escape.”
The District Attorney’s Office investigates all fatal law enforcement encounters to determine if the lethal force was legal. By law, officers may use deadly force when they or others are faced with imminent danger.
An hour after he stole the car, a theft that was caught on a security video, San Jose police officers found Esquivel sitting in the vehicle in the carport area of an apartment complex located on Kollmar Drive in San Jose. After refusing repeated commands to surrender, Esquivel drove the stolen car into a police car, trying to smash his way out. Then, he drove at the police officers, crushing Sgt. Mason between the stolen vehicle and another car parked nearby. Mason suffered a broken shoulder and other injuries.
Three officers, Aaron Alvarez, Edward Carboni and Sgt. Mason, fired their weapons. Much of the incident was caught on body-worn cameras worn by the officers.