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Ceaser Joe Mendoza, 24

Ceaser Joe Mendoza, a 24-year-old Latino, was shot and killed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Saturday June 22, 2013, in the 15613 block of Loukelton Street in La Puente, according to Los Angeles County coroner's records.

Deputy Chad Sessman and his partner saw a gray Nissan Altima going west on Loukelton Street about 9:45 p.m. The deputies illuminated the car with a spotlight and saw that the right front passenger was "slouched low" in the seat and wearing a blue baseball cap, according to a letter from the Justice System Integrity Division of the district attorney's office, which reviews each officer-involved shooting in the county.

The car did not stop at a stop sign, according to the letter, so deputies attempted to pull the car over. Before the car came to a stop, the passenger, later identified as Mendoza, got out of the car and began running on Loukelton Street.

Sessman chased Mendoza, who fell down and allegedly reached for a gun tucked in his waistband, according to the report. Sessman opened fire, and Mendoza began running again. Mendoza allegedly reached for the handgun a second time, and Sessman took cover behind a concrete wall before again shooting at Mendoza.

Paramedics responded and took Mendoza to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:28 p.m., according to coroner's records.

The other two men in the car told investigators that Mendoza became nervous when the deputies attempted to make the traffic stop and asked the driver to pull over. One of the men said that shortly after Mendoza got in the car, he patted his waistband and said, "I got this on me, I need to run."

Deputies recovered a loaded handgun and a magazine at the scene. Based on the casings, Sessman fired five times during the incident, according to the letter.

The district attorney's office ruled that Sessman "acted lawfully in self-defense," according to the letter, which was issued April 1, 2014.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

-- James Queally

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