The female passenger whose reaction to gunfire piercing a Madera police cruiser’s windshield was captured on a harrowing video was a member of the department’s volunteer citizens academy, the city’s police chief said Monday.
The woman, who was doing a ride-along, received minor cuts from flying glass as bullets from a pursued vehicle struck the patrol car early Sunday morning.
Police Chief Steve Frazier, speaking at a news conference, said the woman asked the department not to release her name. The officer who was driving was not injured.
Authorities were searching for the occupants of the white Mazda SUV the officer pursued after trying to pull it over about 4:30 a.m. on Howard Road at Schnoor Avenue. The pursuit wound through the streets of west Madera.
When the Mazda turned onto Lighthouse Drive from Mainberry Drive, the front passenger pointed a gun out the window and fired nine rounds at the patrol car. The officer continued pursuing and as the Mazda approached Shannon Avenue, the passenger fired four more rounds, three of them striking the patrol car.
The officer pulled over, ending the pursuit. The Mazda was later found abandoned. Police said they found an AR15-style pistol and other evidence nearby.
Ride-alongs are offered as part of the citizens academy program, which is designed to give people a better understanding of the department and of the Madera County criminal justice system. Frazier said Sunday’s shooting will have an effect on the program’s procedures, but it was too early to say exactly how.
A video recording from the patrol car captures the sounds of the gunfire and the fearful reaction of the passenger as the bullets strike the car. The vehicle’s rear window was shattered.
“I would venture to say some of our ride-alongs will decline because of this,” Frazier said. The video probably will be added to the academy’s training about ride-alongs, he said.
The department said earlier that the officer had just finished training and was on his second week of solo patrol.
Frazier said department procedure gives officers the option to drop off a ride-along citizen if the situation appears dangerous. “Right now, we’re not second-guessing” the officer’s decisions and actions during the pursuit, Frazier said.