A man who died Wednesday night when his car hit a pole during a brief pursuit by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy was carrying a handgun in his car, a sheriff’s spokesman said Thursday.
Eric Deshaun Willis, 32, who was killed after colliding with a minivan and then slamming into the light pole, was identified Thursday by the Fresno County Coroner’s Office.
The crash took place after a 30-second pursuit that began at Bullard and Palm avenues, according to sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti. Botti said the incident started about 11 p.m., after the deputy spotted Willis speeding west on Bullard near Maroa Avenue. As Willis, driving a Chrysler 300, neared Palm, Botti said the deputy turned on emergency lights in order to make a traffic stop, but Willis sped away at speeds of 100 mph.
Willis struck the minivan at Bullard and West avenues and then crashed into the pole. The deputy reportedly called for paramedics and firefighters, but Willis died at the scene, Botti said. The driver of the minivan sustained minor injuries to his head and arm. The handgun was found in the car, according to Botti.
Botti said the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office pursuit policy allows a deputy to initiate a “Code-3” pursuit, in which a deputy pursues a suspect vehicle at high speed, using emergency lights and a siren. It can be called off by a watch commander at any time.
Other factors that enter into the decision include the amount of other traffic. In the Wednesday night incident, the pursuit ended quickly, after just a mile.