EPHRATA – Roberto Escamilla Mendoza tried to hit a police officer with his car before a Moses Lake police officer shot him.
Prosecutor Angus Lee submitted his report on the Sept. 5 shooting to Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones, stating the Sgt. Brian Jones was defending a fellow officer when he fired at Escamilla Mendoza’s car.
Officer Jones will not be facing any criminal charges for shooting Escamilla Mendoza, according to Lee.
"The officer's actions appeared to be justifiable and reasonable," wrote Lee.
Escamilla Mendoza was at the center of an investigation for allegedly selling methamphetamine. An informant reportedly arranged to meet Escamilla Mendoza in the parking lot of Lep-re-kon Harvest Foods.
“Immediately upon his arrival, multiple police cars surrounded his vehicle and initiated a high-risk detention,” Lee wrote. “Police cars were located at the driver’s side, the rear right and the front left of the suspect vehicle.”
When officers exited their cars and identified themselves, Escamilla Mendoza allegedly backed into at least one police car. Lee stated Escamilla Mendoza had a chance to escape, but the suspect reportedly changed directions and began accelerating toward an officer a few feet in front of the car.
“At this point, the officer standing near the driver’s side door realized that his fellow officer was in clear and present danger of great bodily harm or death from the rapidly accelerating suspect vehicle,” the prosecutor stated. “That officer quickly responded to that threat by firing two rounds toward the driver in an attempt to stop him from intentionally running over a fellow officer.”
Lee stated the incident happened in a span of seconds.
“The actions of this officer were clearly taken in defense of a threat of great bodily harm or death,” he stated. “There was no other available means of ensuring the safety of his fellow officer, nor was there an available alternative to this level of force.”
Escamilla Mendoza survived the gunshot wounds and was charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine and attempted delivery of methamphetamine.
Investigators reportedly found 5.7 pounds of methamphetamine in his home using a search warrant after the shooting.