East Palo Alto man faces felony firearm, drug charges after allegedly shooting police officer

An East Palo Alto man arrested on suspicion of shooting a police officer is facing seven felony charges, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

The suspect was pulled over just after 11 p.m. Jan. 12 in the area of Fordham Street and Purdue Avenue for the lack of a front license plate on his vehicle, according to a memo from District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe. During the stop, officers saw what was suspected to be a bag of cocaine in plain view. The suspect then exited the vehicle and reached for his waistband, police said.

When officers attempted to intervene, the suspect took off on foot. Officers caught him after a short chase and brought him to the ground face down. While laying there, police said the suspect told them that if officers thought he had something in his waistband, then they should roll him onto his back.

While the officers kept the suspect face down, he managed to fire a gunshot, which struck an officer in the foot, according to the prosecutor’s memo. Officers then wrestled the gun away from the suspect and placed him under arrest. According to the DA’s office, the suspect had 20 individually wrapped baggies of cocaine on his person at the time of his arrest. The gun used in the shooting was a semi-automatic handgun that had been modified into a fully-automatic firearm.

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The suspect was later charged with seven felonies, including attempted murder, assault with a machine gun, resisting arrest and possession of a machine gun, a firearm as a felon with three priors, cocaine with intent to sell and a controlled substance with a firearm. The case is also a three strikes case, as the suspect has past felony firearm-related convictions.

The suspect was denied bail and remains in custody. His next hearing was set for Friday afternoon, when a public defender was expected to represent the defendant.