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Modesto Police Releases Video Detailing In-Custody Death

Carlos Rodriguez

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MODESTO – Authorities released several body worn camera videos and 911 calls Wednesday detailing an in-custody death that occurred on September 27th, 2020.

The videos show the apprehension of 33 year old Emilio Villa Mora on Claus Road after several 911 calls. Some of the calls were placed by Villa Mora himself, claiming members of the Cartel were after him.

One call was from a resident reporting someone in their backyard, and another from a few streets to the north indicated that Villa Mora was attempting to gain access to a vehicle. That vehicle had a child in the backseat.

Police caught up with Villa Mora on Claus Road where they attempted to take him into custody. Villa Mora fled on foot with officers giving chase. A taser was used to try to stop him, but it was ineffective. One officer was able to tackle Villa Mora in front of a residence where he was handcuffed. He was placed in the back of a patrol vehicle and seatbelted in place. He was given water and medics were called to evaluate him. The video appears to show Villa Mora declining medical care.

Later in the 19 1/2 minute video, the officers transport Villa Mora to the residential area where he was positively identified by one of the residents. Authorities noted he did not appear to be in any distress. As the investigation progressed, officers checked on Villa Mora and found him slumped over in the back seat with a seatbelt wrapped around his neck.

Officers cut the seatbelt off Villa Mora who appears unresponsive at this point in the video and begin performing CPR. Police called medical personnel to transport him, but he died the morning of October first.

Authorities believe Villa Mora’s actions were induced by drug use or a mental health situation. They also believe he was able to remove his seatbelt and entangle himself, leading to his asphyxiation.

An investigation into the in-custody death was launched internally and by the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office. Officials ask anyone with information to contact the investigations division at (209) 572-9551.

Carlos Rodriguez is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist specializing in public safety and natural disasters. His passion for local news stems from a deep commitment to his community, with a selfless mission to inform the citizens of the valley. As he worked on assignment for 19 days at the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California, he spent most of his time helping survivors contact their loved ones to let them know they were ok. Carlos is a veteran of Univision, FOX, and Telemundo TV stations and a native of Modesto, California.

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Child Taken in Stolen Auto Reunited with Family

Carlos Rodriguez

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MERCED – The parents of a three year old girl who was taken with their car as it was stolen were relieved to have their child back home Monday night.

The incident happened at about 6:45pm on the 400 block of West 27th Street, as Melissa Foster was preparing to take her Toyota Corolla to a car wash.

“I took one second just to run back to my porch to grab my purse,” Foster said. “In that split second, my mom saw the car door open and close.”

Someone had jumped into the car and began driving off with it. Melissa’s three year old daughter Jessie Sanchez, or “JJ” as she is affectionately called, was still inside. Melissa chased after the car on foot for two blocks before the vehicle was able to get away.

She believed whoever took her car and her daughter had been watching and waiting for her.

Police searched the surrounding neighborhood for any sign of the the stolen vehicle and the child.

“Commonly when someone steals a car and finds a child inside they (the suspect) will usually abandon the car within three or four blocks,” said Captain Jay Struble with the Merced Police Department. “Unfortunately this was not the case here.”

As time continued to pass with no sign of the car or the child, authorities issued an Amber Alert. Photos of the car and child were posted and shared to social media sites to help the word spread.

At about 8:45pm, the California Highway Patrol received a call from a citizen saying they saw the vehicle parked at a Chevron in Chowchilla. Authorities responded and found the vehicle abandoned with the child inside. Officers had to force entry into the vehicle to gain access, but found the child was unharmed and uninjured.

Detectives with the Merced Police Department, officers with Chowchilla Police and California Highway Patrol, as well as a K-9 from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office searched the area for any signs of a suspect. Monday night there was no word of an arrest.

Captain Struble said investigators were looking at surveillance video from the area, but they can only make out what appeared to be a male figure.

Jessie was brought home and reunited with her family in Merced shortly before 9:30pm. To brighten her spirits, Officer Rogelio Rodriguez bought her lollipops to enjoy on the drive home.

“She was very excited to see her mom and dad when she got back.”

The parents expressed their gratitude for the authorities involved in searching for little Jessie, and thankful for the public and Amber Alert system that made everything in this incident work out.

“Your mind is just a fog in that moment,” the child’s mother said of the two hours waiting while police searched for the girl. “I know she’s so strong and so brave.”

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Amber Alert: Vehicle Stolen With Toddler Inside

Carlos Rodriguez

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MERCED – Authorities searched for a vehicle that was stolen late Monday afternoon with a toddler inside.

The vehicle was taken at about 6:45pm from the 400 block West 27th Street. The car was described as a Silver Toyota Corolla with the California license plate 4VMS942.

The child, a 3 year old girl names Jessie Sanchez, was in the vehicle when it was taken. She has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a pink sweater, green shirt, and black pants with pink stars.

The California Highway Patrol says the vehicle was taken by an unknown suspect and last seen heading south on West 27th Street.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Jessie Sanchez or the vehicle is encouraged to call 911 immediately.

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House Fire Reported In Patterson

Carlos Rodriguez

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PATTERSON – Firefighters responded to a report of a home on fire early Monday evening.

The fire was reported shortly after 7:30pm near the area of Ward and Las Palmas Avenues. The initial reports indicated a roof on fire at a home.

Arriving fire crews located a home fully engulfed. Roadways around the fire were closed off to traffic for personnel working the incident.

At publication time, there was no report of injuries or a cause of the fire.

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