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San Mateo Police Release Body Cam Video Of Officer Shooting That Injured Retail Theft Suspects

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) -- San Mateo police released body cam video of an officer-involved shooting in September that injured two women who are suspected in a series of retail thefts across the Bay Area and Southern California.

"They targeted Apple stores, and we have seen these grab and runs through Apple stores, especially the last few months," said San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer.


The incident began on September 28 at 5:19 p.m. when officers spotted a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot at Hilldale Shopping Center. The Chevrolet Malibu, unoccupied and with the engine running, was parked in a handicapped stall without a placard and with a license plate belonging to a Honda out of Anaheim.

When two women emerged and drove away, officers began a pursuit during which the suspects were seen throwing credit cards out of the window along El Camino and 31st Ave., police said.

After hitting a parked car on the 400 block of East Hillsdale Blvd., the chase ended at a nearby cul-de-sac.

As seen on body cam videos released by San Mateo police, an officer opens fire at the car which was cornered and moving toward other officers. After firing off a number of rounds, the car backs up toward the officer who opened fire, and the same officer is seen firing another series of shots. A superimposed graphic identifies the video as coming from "Officer J. Ramirez."

"They followed them for a short time to east Hillsdale Court, at which time the vehicle was trapped in the court, and the vehicle reversed in an attempt to flee," said Manheimer. "The officer shot at the vehicle fearing for his life."

Both women were struck by bullets and officers rendered first aid at the scene before the women were taken to a trauma center. The extent of their injuries was not revealed but San Mateo Police Chief Susan Manheimer said both were recovering. No officers were injured.

The women were identified as Rickita James, 30, of Newark, Delaware and Taleah Johnson, 27, of Philadelphia, Police said they flew to Los Angeles from Philadelphia two days before the incident, and over the next 48 hours committed a series of retail thefts and other crimes in at least 11 locations in Southern California and the Bay Area, including in Daly City, San Jose and Palo Alto.

On September 28, the suspects were seen on camera committing numerous thefts at Hillsdale Shopping Center before being confronted by police officers.

Following the shooting, the involved officer was placed on administrative leave and still remains on leave.  Police said there were three concurrent, separate investigations of the shooting. One focuses on the original crime and is conducted by the San Mateo Police Department. Anothe focuses on the use of force and is led by the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office. The third, also led by the police department, was to determine whether the officer who openend fire acted within department policy.

Both James and Johnson face a multitude of charges including burglary, possession of stolen property and burglary tools, identity theft, and conspiracy.

Anyone with information about the regarding the incident, was urged to contact the San Mateo Police Department at (650) 522-7700. Anonymous crime tips can be submitted online or by calling (650) 522-7676.

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