Authorities Thursday released their first detailed description, along with video footage, of a multi-agency law enforcement shooting that led to the death of a DUI suspect on Interstate 805 last week.
The shooting took place in Chula Vista following a 90-minute chase that began in Orange County.
Two San Diego police officers and four members of the California Highway Patrol opened fire on Christopher Ulmer, 30, about 1:15 a.m. Oct. 4 following the pursuit.
The chase ended when Ulmer, of Whittier, pulled over on the freeway near Otay Valley Regional Park.
Images released by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department this afternoon show Ulmer get out of his car on the freeway holding a dark-colored object in his right hand.
Ulmer lifted that arm in the direction of the nearby phalanx of law enforcement personnel taking cover behind their stationary cruisers. At that point, the six SDPD and CHP personnel, fearing he had a firearm, unleashed a fusillade of gunfire.
The bullets struck Ulmer, who collapsed onto the roadway, sheriff’s officials said. He got up and again appeared to raise his arm. The move prompted a second burst of gunfire.
Ulmer fell a second and final time. Doctors pronounced him dead in a hospital a short time later.
Investigators compiled the images from video recorded by officers’ uniform-worn cameras and the crew of a police helicopter circling overhead.
The Sheriff’s Department revealed new facts about the case Thursday, including a photo of what Ulmer clutched at the time of his death. The black, almost rectangular object with rounded sides and edges, somewhat resembled an eyeglass case.
The county agency, which is investigating the case due to the involvement of CHP and SDPD personnel, did not identify the item. Authorities found it underneath the mortally wounded man.
The road chase leading to the shooting began shortly after 11:30 a.m. Oct. 3 when Santa Ana police tried to pull Ulmer over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
He refused to yield, fleeing south on Interstate 5 into San Diego County. He eventually merged onto I-805 before stopping in the area of Orange Avenue.
Ulmer remained in his car for a few minutes, then started driving south again on the closed freeway.
At that point, a CHP officer employed a so-called PIT, or pursuit intervention technique, using the front of the cruiser to spin Ulmer’s car. With the maneuver, the car faced the contingent of officers just to the north.
Moments later, Ulmer got out of his car and raised his arm, which drew the police gunfire.
The personnel who opened fire have been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation.
– City News Service