Police in Fresno on Friday continued to investigate a traffic stop and arrest in which two deputies with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office shot a woman who had been taken into custody.
Among the pressing questions for investigators is how the woman - a convicted felon who was wanted in connection with a July 15 shooting - was able to get free from her handcuffs and use a gun to fire at deputies as they searched her vehicle.
Deputies on Thursday were initially called to serve an eviction on the suspect at an apartment complex near Valentine and San Jose avenues. A Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC) team was called in when the deputies learned there was a warrant for her arrest.
At the complex, the deputies identified the woman's vehicle and initiated a tactical felony traffic stop as she left the complex. The suspect was compliant with deputies at the time, and was handcuffed and put in a patrol vehicle.
As deputies begin to search her vehicle, the woman produced a gun and fired one round at the deputies, Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama said Thursday. At least two of the three deputies at the scene returned fire and struck the woman at least twice in the upper torso.
Because the shooting happened on city streets, the Fresno Police Department is handling the investigation. At noon Friday, police said they expected to have an update later in the day.
The deputies, Balderrama said, did everything right leading up to the detention of the suspect, but "somehow she slipped through the cuffs and was able to produce a firearm."
"It's not uncommon that a female suspect, you know because they are a little bit more limber, smaller hands, they sometimes can slip out of their handcuffs," he said.
"It a very dangerous and scary situation for deputies."
Balderrama also said there was no indication how the woman was able to conceal the weapon from the deputies and that he wouldn't speculate on the matter because investigators didn't have all the information.
In his experience, "it is not terribly uncommon for females to be able to hide firearms, either in between their breasts or in other areas on the body. When you have male police officers, they are a lot more hesitant to search completely," he said.
A female deputy was en route to the scene at the time of the shooting.
As of midday Friday, police had not identified the woman or her current condition.
On Thursday, Balderrama said she was in critical but stable condition at a hospital and that she was responsive and communicating.
Last year, two detectives with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office, shot a man at Fashion Fair mall who was trying to flee in a stolen vehicle. That incident also involved members of Fresno's multi-agency anti-car theft team.
Last month, a suspect in the custody of the Clovis Police Department slipped out of his handcuffs and fled from officers as he was being transferred at the Fresno County Jail. He was re-arrested a few hours later.