SAN DIEGO -- Two San Diego men were in custody following a brief police chase Wednesday from Linda Vista to Clairemont Mesa that started when the driver of a stolen vehicle tried to run down an officer, who fired a single shot that struck the motorist's arm, police said.
The incident began around 12:10 a.m. when two San Diego patrol officers spotted a pair of men drinking alcohol in a stolen Acura sedan in the back parking lot of the Kearny Mesa Recreation Center at 3170 Armstrong St., according to San Diego police. Police later identified them as 20-year-old Jason Santana, the driver, and his 25-year-old passenger, Marco Huerta.
When the officers contacted the men in the parking lot, Santana became agitated, refused to exit the car, reached for an unknown object in his pocket and then put the car in reverse, San Diego police Lt. Brian Ahearn alleged.
The driver steered the car "so that he was in the path of the officer," who is a three-year veteran of the department, according to police.
"Believing the driver was going to strike him with the vehicle, the officer fired one round from his handgun," SDPD Lt. Mike Holden said. "The round struck the driver in the arm."
The wound did not stop Santana, who sped away in the stolen Acura, leading police north on Armstrong Street into Clairemont Mesa for about a mile, Holden said. The pursuit ended when the Acura crashed into a parked SUV on Marlesta Drive, according to police. Huerta was pinned in the passenger seat of the car because of the crash and detained immediately without further incident.
"The driver ran from the vehicle but was quickly apprehended by officers," Holden said. "During the arrest, a loaded handgun was found in the suspect's pants pocket."
Santana's arm injury appeared to be minor as news cameras captured footage of him walking in handcuffs to the back of an ambulance without any obviously visible wounds. Holden said he was taken to a hospital, treated and released back into police custody.
Santana was expected to be booked into the San Diego Central Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer, possession of a stolen vehicle, possession of a loaded firearm and other charges, Holden said. Huerta was expected to be booked on a parole violation.
SDPD's homicide unit was investigating the shooting, Officer John Buttle said. Homicide detectives typically investigate all officer-involved shootings whether they are fatal or not.