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Modesto Police Releases Video Detailing In-Custody Death

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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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Teen Suffers Head Wound in Highway Shooting, Suspects Arrested

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STOCKTON – Investigators with the California Highway Patrol arrested a man suspected of being involved in a shooting that wounded a teen Monday afternoon.

The incident happened shortly after 3:00pm near the area of Highway 99 and Kettleman Lane in Lodi. According to the California Highway Patrol, the driver of a Nissan Altima fired a gun several times at the victim vehicle, striking a teenage passenger in the head. The driver of the victim vehicle drove the teen to Lodi Memorial Hospital for care. Valley Division CHP Investigators responded to work the case.

Moses Mercado, a 21 year old resident of Lodi, was identified as a suspect during the course of the investigation. Investigators located and arrested Mercado after a brief pursuit in South Stockton that ended on South California near Worth Street. A passenger of the Nissan Altima, 21 year old Bella Villanueva of Ripon, was also arrested. Villanueva faces charges of aiding and abetting, conspiracy, and concealing evidence.

Mercado was charged with attempted murder, carrying a loaded firearm with a previous felony conviction, being a felon in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit a crime, being a prohibited person in possession of ammunition, and shooting at an inhabited vehicle. He is in custody without bail and due in court on June 30th at 1:30pm.

A third suspect, 29 year old Edgar Hernandez of Stockton, was arrested and charged with carrying a loaded unregistered firearm concealed in a vehicle.

“We want to assure the public that these acts of violence are not random, but are often targeted attacks between parties that know each other,” said Commander Mel Hutsell of the Stockton CHP Office. “We take these types of incidents very seriously and are committed to ensuring public safety.”

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact CHP Investigations at (916) 731-6300.

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Brush Fire Fills Skies with Smoke

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SALIDA – A brush fire in the north end of Stanislaus County filled the skies over Modesto and neighboring communities with smoke Monday and Tuesday.

The fire was reported in San Joaquin County initially, but jumped the Stanislaus River late Monday afternoon. The fire burned in heavy brush along the river near the 10100 block of Beckwith Road.

Early indications suggest the fire to have burned 150-200 acres, however at time of publication an exact measurement was not available.

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Airport Neighborhood Shooting Investigated

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MODESTO – One person was rushed to a hospital after a report of a person shot Monday Afternoon.

The incident happened shortly after 1:30pm near the intersection of Kerr Avenue and Tenaya Drive. An ambulance left with one person and a sheriff deputy following close behind.

The area was closed off with crime scene tape as deputies examined the scene. Evidence technicians and investigators responded as well.

No further details were available at time of publication.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.

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