SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The parents of a 24-year-old woman who was shot and killed by San Jose police on Christmas morning are calling for an independent investigation into the shooting.
Jennifer Vasquez was killed and her 28-year-old passenger was shot and injured after leading police on a high-speed chase in a stolen car.
But it was a case of mistaken identity. Officers thought they were pursuing shooting suspects in an earlier unrelated case.
Lidia Jimenez, a family spokeswoman, called the fatal shooting “cold-blooded murder.”
“Did the officers exhaust all non-lethal options before opening fire? And did the officers continue to shoot after the victim was already down?” asked Jimenez.
The family said Jennifer’s body was so badly shot through, they are unable to hold an open casket funeral.
“Jennifer Vasquez has at least ten gunshots to her head and face,” Jimenez said.
Two days after the shooting, San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia defended the officer’s actions saying Vasquez could have run them after crashing into a fence and trying to get away.
“Officers find a vehicle that matches that description. That vehicle happens to be stolen, it leads them on a high speed pursuit. It crashes and then tries to ram officers,” Garcia said.
Vasquez’ supporters also called on the police department to release investigative reports and any body cam or dash cam footage to ensure transparency.
“A conclusion should only be arrived at after a thorough investigation. Especially if it’s an investigation of a homicide,” said Raj Jayadev who leads the Coalition for Justice and Accountability.
Vasquez’s mother, Maria Elena Vasquez, thanked supporters and called on District Attorney Jeff Rosen – who’s office will determine if the shooting was legal – for a fair investigation.
In a statement, Rosen said he has agreed to meet with Vasquez’s parents.