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The Modesto Bee (CA)
October 9, 2001
Author: PATRICK GIBLIN, BEE STAFF WRITER
The Stanislaus County district attorney’s office has cleared a California Highway Patrol officer in the shooting death of a Hilmar teen-ager in June.
No criminal charges will be filed in the shooting death of Alan Adams, 18. A letter the district attorney’s office sent to CHP Capt. Mick Rotondo, the Merced area commander, last month explained the decision. The letter was made public Monday.
CHP officer John Speers shot Adams on June 26 after a 70-minute car chase that crisscrossed Stanislaus and Merced counties and ended on Highway 99 just south of Faith Home Road.
Adams’ parents got a copy of the letter Friday.
“I think there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Cathy Adams, Alan Adams’ mother, said Monday. “Why didn’t they use spike strips to slow down his car or use other means to stop him?”
The letter says that a CHP sergeant had retrieved a spike strip to use in the chase but it was never deployed.
The letter confirms what CHP officials said the day after the shooting: Speers shot Adams after Adams’ Ford Expedition had pinned the officer to his car. The shooting was justified because Speers thought that his life was in danger.
The letter says that Adams was going north on Highway 99 when he saw that traffic was blocked at the Faith Home Road overpass because of another accident. Adams then cut across the median to head south, and in doing so, hit a CHP car that was chasing him. That caused his Expedition to veer out of control and go into a ditch on the west side of the highway. Three CHP cars then boxed in the Expedition.
The Expedition became snagged on a chain-link fence, the letter says. After several attempts to get out of the ditch, the letter says, Adams steered his car toward Speers, who was standing outside of his patrol car, using his car door as a shield. Adam’s vehicle brushed the CHP car door, pinning Speers to his car, the letter says.
Speers fired six shots through Adams’ windshield; two of those bullets hit the teen-ager.
Adams then put his vehicle in reverse and hit a CHP car behind him. The Expedition stopped and another CHP officer broke the driver’s-side window, reached in and turned off the motor while Adams continued to struggle, the letter says. When officers saw that he had been shot, ambulances were called. But the teen-ager died of his injuries
.The chase started in Delhi at about 1:55 p.m. It went through orchards and down rural roads in Merced and Stanislaus counties. The shooting was reported at 3:05 p.m.
It still isn’t clear why Adams originally tried to drive away from officers. Besides a few traffic tickets, he had no warrants. The letter says that an autopsy revealed that Adams had Prozac and amitriptyline, an antidepressant, in his system when he died.
Record Number: MOD_161D88D2
Copyright 2001 The Modesto Bee