Five Riverside County sheriff’s deputies opened fire on cop-killing suspect William Shae McKay on Dec. 29 after he crashed on the 15 Freeway in Norco at the end of a two-county pursuit, uniform-worn camera videotape released this week shows.
McKay, 44, who the Sheriff’s Department said ambushed Deputy Isaiah Cordero, 32, during a traffic stop earlier in the day in Jurupa Valley, died. He was killed after he fired on deputies, Sheriff Chad Bianco said as he narrated the critical incident video posted on the department’s Facebook page on Wednesday, Feb. 15.
The video also includes recordings from a sheriff’s helicopter that show McKay’s dark-colored pickup smoking as he headed south on the 15, minutes after a spike strip had deflated at least one tire on the 60 Freeway in Jurupa Valley. A sheriff’s armored vehicle spun out the pickup as it entered Norco, but McKay kept driving until he veered across the freeway lanes and came to a stop under the 5th Street overpass.
The armored vehicle then pinned the pickup against an embankment. The five videos show two deputies driving up, leaping out of their cars and firing; and three others show deputies racing up, taking cover and firing. No information was available Thursday on how many of the deputies hit McKay.
Bianco, who had joined almost 40 other law enforcement vehicles in the pursuit, was not among those who shot, said Sgt. Sergeant Wenndy Brito-Gonzalez, a department spokeswoman.
The gunfire, which came as sirens wailed in the background, lasted about 15 seconds until someone yelled, “Hey, hold your fire,” according to the video.
The siege ended on the freeway on which it began. At 3:07 p.m., about an hour and a half after Cordero was killed, a Beaumont police officer who had responded to the officer-needs-helped call spotted McKay’s pickup on the northbound 15 in Rancho Cucamonga, Bianco said. McKay drove north on the 15, headed back south after exiting at Base Line Road and then drove east on the 60.
McKay exited at Rubidoux Boulevard in Jurupa Valley and headed west, where he ran over the spike strip at Valley Way before his final transition, to the southbound 15. He fired a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that lacked the required engraved serial number, Bianco said.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, aided by the sheriff’s Force Investigations Detail, will examine the legality of the deputies’ gunfire, as happens in all police shootings in the county.
McKay had five felony convictions. That he was out on the streets has prompted demands that the judge who put him there be fired or removed from trying criminal cases.
In a bench trial in November 2021, Cara D. Hutson found McKay guilty of false imprisonment, making threats likely to result in great bodily injury, evading arrest and receiving stolen property, resulting in a third strike and leaving him facing a sentence of 25 years to life. She acquitted him of two more serious charges of kidnapping and reduced his bail accordingly from $950,000 to $500,000 — which McKay told the judge he could not afford.
But McKay did make bail ahead of sentencing. And he appeared at the next two court hearings before failing to show up for a third where he might have been sentenced.
“We would not be here today if the judge had done her job,” Bianco said the night of Cordero’s death.
The Chino City Council on Feb. 7 approved sending letters to state and county officials seeking Hutson’s ouster. Cordero’s mother also said she wants Hutson off the bench, and as of Thursday afternoon, more than 10,000 people had signed a petition on the National Police Association website calling for Hutson to resign.
After the Sheriff’s Department went 19 years without a deputy being slain in the line of duty, Cordero’s death was the first of two in the span of about two weeks. Darnell Calhoun, 30, was shot to death on Jan. 13 as he arrived at a domestic violence call in the Lake Elsinore area.
Cordero’s backup shot suspect Jesse Navarro. Navarro, who remains in a hospital, has been charged with murder and attempted murder on a peace officer. The Sheriff’s Department has not scheduled a release of critical incident video in that case, Brito-Gonzalez said.
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