Coroner’s report in deputy-involved shooting in Greenville released

Jason Mendez
Jason Mendez

GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – The coroner has released a report on the fatal officer-involved shooting that happened at the Super Lodge Hotel early Saturday morning.

37-year-old Jason Robert Mendez of Fountain Inn died at the scene.

The coroner says he died from gunshot wounds.

The solicitor says 4 shots were fired and they are doing ballistics testing right now.

Investigators say they respond to the area often for criminal activity. They were watching for suspicious activity when a deputy ran the tags of a car in the parking lot. The car was determined to be stolen.

According to Sheriff Will Lewis, Mendez had a passenger in his car, 23-year-old Kristen Clark.

A deputy tapped on their window to make contact. The sheriff says they acknowledged law enforcement presence but did not comply.

The deputy called for backup and once two others arrived, they busted the front windows of the car. That’s when an altercation with Mendez began and the fatal shots were fired.

They performed CPR on him until EMS could arrive.

The coroner says all wounds were to the torso and the trajectories, entrance locations and exit locations are still under investigation.

“In the video I saw, well I’ll just say it, the pain that the deputies went through after this, I mean they were forced to make a decision that they did not want to make. Mr. Mendez put them in a position to take his life,” Sheriff Lewis said. “They had no other choice. It was go home or go to the morgue for them.”

Police say they found a .40 caliber Taurus pistol in the driver seat. They say Mendez was wearing a holster.

They also found a fanny pack of what’s believed to be meth on Mendez. A needle with what they think is meth was also in the car.

Clark was charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle and Obstruction of Justice.

Sheriff Lewis says the hotel is frequently known for drugs, prostitution, stolen vehicles, and gang activity.

A gun was found in the car but the Sheriff could not say if it was on a person or who it belonged to.

The Sheriff also said that Clark told deputies that she and Mendez were supposed to get married soon.

He says Mendez had a lengthy criminal history.

READ: Man killed by deputies had long criminal history says Greenville Sheriff

SLED says there is no body camera video of the incident. Investigators are currently reviewing dash camera video, but Wilkins said, Wednesday, it does not show the incident. It does, however, capture audio.

Mendez’s family held a news conference on Tuesday. The organization, Fighting Injustice Together says they are working at Mendez’s request to “help navigate transparency into the pending investigation into the death of her son.”

They released this statement from Kathy Mendez, Jason’s mother:

“I will not stop, in seeking the full truth in my son’s tragic death, especially knowing that my son was shot at least once in the back.”

Wednesday, Solictor Wilkins said they are promoting greater transparency, moving forward, in handling officer involved shootings. This includes releasing information about the case to the public quicker. The Sheriff’s office says they have reached out to the family to schedule a time for the family to review the video before it’s released to the public, but no appointment has yet to be set.

Wilkins said video of the incident will likely be made public next week.

READ: Family wants transparency in Mendez shooting investigation

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