Girlfriend of man killed in Greenville Co. officer-involved shoo - FOX Carolina 21

Girlfriend of man killed in Greenville Co. officer-involved shooting speaks out

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Mendez girlfriend speaks out Mendez girlfriend speaks out

A woman who witnessed her boyfriend being shot to death by Greenville County deputies is breaking her silence.

Kristen Clark was inside the car when Jason Mendez was shot and killed in Feb. 11 outside the Super Lodge Inn and Suites on Mauldin Road.

The Greenville County Sheriff's Office said Mendez refused commands and deputies used deadly force to eliminate the threat.  The solicitor said a gun was found within reach of Mendez.

Clark said, "It feels unreal, still feels unreal. I cry every day. I think about him every day.”

She said is has been difficult to watch or read news story about the incident because she was sitting right beside Mendez when he was killed.

"I'm torn apart, its hard every day waking up, him not being here," she said.

Mendez' family, however, wanted the full video of the incident released because they believe it leaves unanswered questions.

GRAPHIC: Surveillance video released after officer-involved shooting

Clark said she and Mendez were sitting in a car outside the Super Lodge when a deputy approached them, shouting and refusing to explain why he wanted them to get out of the car.

Deputies said the two refused to respond or engage with deputies as they approached the car.  They said the car was stolen.

Clark said it wasn’t a stolen car, but a used car they’d bought with license plates from an old car, adding the mismatch between the plate and car could have triggered the initial stop after the couple parked at the motel.

"When he come up on our car, he stopped and that's when he come to the car, already hollering for us to put our hands up, for him to put his hands on the wheel for me to put my hands on the dash and for us to step out of the vehicle," Clark said. "They never gave us a reason why so we never opened our door."

According to the police report, deputies busted out the car's front window, had an altercation with Jason Mendez and then two officers fired shots.

Investigators say a total of three officers were involved in the shooting, but only two of them fired their weapons.  Clark said officers didn’t have to shoot Mendez and could have used mace or a Taser instead of a gun.

"They didn't have to go directly into shooting him, they busted the window," she said. "They already had the window busted out, why didn't you automatically mace or tase him when you had the opportunity."

After the shooting, officers pulled Clark from the car and held down on the ground until placing her in the police car.  According to deputies, a gun and meth were found in the car.

"He didn't have the best past, nor have I, nor have a lot of people we know, but he did not deserve that," Clark said. "He was not pulling a gun on them. He did not try to hurt them in any kind of way; all he was trying to do was keep their hands off him and that's when he jerked back and that was it."

The sheriff says the shooting was self-defense and believes the video supports that. Mendez’s family, and community activists have said  the video does not prove anything and they're still waiting to hear the audio from the surveillance.

The solicitor says he will release the audio of the surveillance video once the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division or SLED completes its investigation.

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