Attorney: Menlo Park police sergeant in fatal shooting saw man reach for gun, heard shot fired


The attorney representing one of the Menlo Park police officers involved in Tuesday's fatal shooting said the officer returned fire after Jerry Lee Matheny allegedly drew a gun.

Matheny, 52, has been identified by the county coroner's office as the man who was shot and killed by Menlo Park police during a pursuit on Tuesday, Nov. 11 on Willow Road, near Willow Place, at about 12:50 p.m.

Attorney Alison Berry Wilkinson, who is representing the police sergeant involved in the shooting, told the Almanac on Thursday, Nov. 13, that the officer had joined others in the foot pursuit along Willow Road and initially reached for his baton.

"As the sergeant was reaching for his baton, he saw the subject reach for his waistband, pull a gun and point it at the sergeant with a menacing look on his face," Wilkinson said. "As he saw the suspect's gun and heard a shot fired, the sergeant transitioned from reaching for his baton to pulling out his duty weapon, and returned fire."

Menlo Park Police Chief Robert Jonsen said that video footage of the shooting from the cameras worn by the officers will be given to the District Attorney's Office for review, but not released to the public. The police officers involved in the shooting are on paid leave until the review is finished, he said.

Matheny, a resident of Nuevo in Riverside County, was reportedly wanted by the state for violating parole, according to law enforcement sources. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation issued a warrant for him on July 22 related to possession of a controlled substance. He remained at large before Nov. 11.

He was also a suspect in other burglaries along the Peninsula, according to police. District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Almanac that his office had filed a felony case out of San Mateo for two counts of commercial burglary and one count of identity theft against Matheny on Oct. 21, which was pending on the issuance of an arrest warrant by a judge, he said.

A witness at the scene of the shooting who didn't want to be identified said a woman employed at a Willow area business alerted police upon spotting a man who resembled a burglary suspect pictured on a flier distributed by her landlord to commercial tenants.

Officers responded and "found a male suspect involved in a burglary in progress," according to a police statement. A stolen wallet was found at the scene.

Police pursued Matheny on foot and "a Taser device was deployed to stop the suspect. The ... suspect pulled out a gun and possibly took aim at the officer," the statement said. The weapon was recovered at the scene.

Officers shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead by medics, police said. One officer was taken to the hospital with a knee injury sustained during the foot pursuit.

The investigation is ongoing. The body remained in the road, covered by a yellow tarp, for some time, and Willow Road was reportedly closed between Middlefield and Creek Drive. News helicopters hovering overhead added to the frantic environment.

Palo Alto and Atherton police departments were called in to help with traffic control.

Any witnesses to the incident are asked to call the Menlo Park Police Department at 650-330-6300.

The last officer-involved shooting in Menlo Park was on Dec. 22, 2006, police said.

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11 people like this
Posted by Grateful Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 12, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Thanks MPPD!

10 people like this
Posted by Tigger Happy
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

"Police pursued the man on foot and "a Taser device was deployed to stop the suspect. The ... suspect pulled out a gun and possibly took aim at the officer," the statement said.

Officers shot the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene by medics, police said."

How many shots did the cops fire?
Why wouldn't the cops have acted in a way to minimize fatality?

16 people like this
Posted by Pooh Happy
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:19 pm

@Tigger - what's the value of minimizing fatalities in a case like this? It only brings more risk to the police. And if we are honest, isn't the world a better place without Jerry Lee Matheny? Is it a superior outcome if they shoot him in the knee, pay for his hospital bills, pay to send himt o jail for 5 years, then he is out committing crimes again.

17 people like this
Posted by Desmo
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm

When someone pulls a gun on cops they don't shoot to wound you know. You aim center mass and shoot. Did you expect them to say "please don't fire at us"?

11 people like this
Posted by mmatheny
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2014 at 5:38 am

mmatheny is a registered user.

Lets be honest no the world is not a better place without jerry lee matheny he was a great man,father,and grandpa he just made a few bad choices the way the police went about this was wrong and over borad i would say it angers me seeing the picthers reading the articles how mupilty officers opened fire on him caues he possibly aimed a wepon at them they didnt even no it was a gun till after he was killed

7 people like this
Posted by mmatheny
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2014 at 5:41 am

mmatheny is a registered user.

No but i expect them to be sure its a gun and it dose not take more then one cop to shoot him and they didnt have to shoot to kill him

13 people like this
Posted by Cassandra
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 13, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Cassandra is a registered user.

Was it a baton? Or a taser? Oh, so the taser wasn't working? Neighbors heard five fast shots, so I'd say it's pretty clear the suspect never fired. Whether he had a weapon or not -- well, we won't hear his version of the story, will we?

Sorry, I appreciate the police putting themselves at risk, but a burglar doesn't typically present an imminent threat to anyone, whereas firing shots in a busy neighborhood on a school holiday is potentially tragic. What happened to that taser? And will we see video of the suspect with a weapon, or was that conveniently found on the street later?

3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2014 at 7:43 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Cassandra - they cops have body cameras. Did you think that this is one of those stories where the cops pretended he had a gun and put one next to his body?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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