Family and friends of a 24-year-old woman who was killed by San Jose police on Christmas morning say she was shot at least 10 times before she died.
Police said they misidentified Jennifer Vazquez as the suspect in a shooting at 2:09 a.m. in the area of Clemence Avenue and Story Road. Officers responded to gunshots there and found two adults suffering from at least one gunshot wound each, and shell casings from a handgun at the scene.
Officers began following Vazquez’s car at the direction of a witness, determined her car to be stolen and pursued her on a short chase before she crashed into a chain-link fence at the intersection of Fruitdale and Leigh avenues.
Vazquez drove back and forth in an effort to free her vehicle from the fence, police said, and allegedly used the car as a weapon to ram officers. Four police officers then shot Vazquez and injured her passenger, 28-year-old Linda Bueno of San Jose, who was hospitalized and later booked into Santa Clara County Jail on a misdemeanor bench warrant.
Lidia Jimenez, a Midtown Family Services caseworker who described herself as a mentor to Vazquez, said she and the woman’s parents, Maria Elena Vazquez and Jose De Jesus Ramos, saw her body on Friday.
“I was able to count 10 shots to her face and head,” Jimenez said Wednesday after a news conference at the intersection where Vazquez died.
She added that the funeral will likely be closed-casket due to the graphic nature of her injuries.
“They’re trying to do reconstruction on her head and face but there’s not a lot of hope for it,” Jimenez said.
A GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $5,000 of its $15,000 goal as of Wednesday night.
Jimenez and the family claim a lack of communication from the Police Department, which has said all four officers had their body cameras activated but the footage won’t be released until a thorough investigation is complete. The officers have since been placed on routine paid administrative leave.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office has agreed to set up a meeting with the family, Jimenez said.
Raj Jayadev, director of Silicon Valley De-Bug, said police have no reason to withhold the footage and were equipped with body cameras to serve the public with transparency.
“All we’re left with is a dead young woman and speculations,” he said.
He also called into question Chief Eddie Garcia’s handling of the shooting, saying the Police Department has already decided the shooting was justified.
“There’s no way a department is going to have a thorough, independent, open-ended investigation, and yet at the same time have a conclusion already made,” Jayadev said.
The family will assess its demands after the meeting with the district attorney’s office. As they currently stand, the family is asking for an independent investigation, body camera and dashboard camera footage, the names of the officers who shot Vazquez and possibly a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
“I come from a rough background myself,” Jimenez said at a vigil last Thursday. “I just feel Jenny’s opportunity to [improve herself] was taken away. Nobody deserves to die the way she did.”
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