SAN JOSE -- A San Jose man was facing a possible third strike on his felony record when he led police on a violent, high-speed pursuit that ended with officers shooting and killing him a couple of blocks from his South San Jose home.
As of Wednesday, investigators had not recovered the gun police say Ronald Aduddell trained on officers during the Saturday chase, which put them on enough alert that they opened fire when he reportedly put his hands near his waistband.
Adrienne Dell, a San Jose criminal-defense attorney who represented the 28-year-old Aduddell in a handful of prior cases, expressed shock at the allegation that her former client had a gun. He had a troubled past fueled largely by drug addiction and made previous attempts to elude police but was not the type to confront them with gunfire, she said.
"I can't tell you how upset I am," Dell said. "He's not a violent man at all. He's done evading in the past, but he was never charged with any weapons (offenses). I find it hard to believe he was in possession of a firearm."
His last brush with police occurred a year ago and started similarly to Saturday's events. On Jan. 11, 2012, he was spotted by a Santa Clara County Sheriff's deputy running stop signs in a residential neighborhood in South San Jose, sparking a chase that was soon called off out of safety concerns, both for speed and the claim that Aduddell threw roofing nails onto the road to puncture his pursuers' tires.
Authorities tracked down Aduddell two weeks later, and he was initially charged for the chase -- after which he repainted his car -- and the discovery of a meth pipe during a parole search. Prosecutors added two counts of assault with a deadly weapon related to the nails thrown on the roadway, but those were dropped in a deal where he pleaded no contest to felony evading and misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia.
He was released from jail Oct. 26 after getting credit for time served. Dell said all of Aduddell's run-ins with the law stemmed from his methamphetamine habit, including two residential burglaries that counted as two strikes against him, leaving him one away from a lengthy prison term.
Dell acknowledged that addiction could have clouded Aduddell's judgment Saturday, when about 2:30 p.m. a patrol officer saw him in a tan Ford Contour near Bascom and Union avenues and acting suspiciously, police said. The car took off as an officer approached, and the officer decided against a pursuit and instead patrolled the area. A few minutes later, he caught up with the car.
This time, police said, the Ford -- determined to have a stolen license plate -- hit the patrolman's car head-on, which prompted other officers to respond. Police say radio traffic from officers described how the driver pointed a gun at them as they gave chase, and that he was throwing items out of the car.
After a chase that got onto Highway 85 and went against oncoming traffic, officers cornered the nearly disabled car at Blossom and Calero avenues. Police say Aduddell quickly got out with his hands near his waistband, and Officers Ian Cooley, a 16-year police veteran, and 13-year veteran Adam Jenkins believed the man was reaching for a gun and opened fire.
A cellphone video from a passerby shows the end of the chase and recorded the sound of multiple shots.
"Everything happened very quickly," police spokesman Sgt. Jason Dwyer said Tuesday. "They're believing he's reaching for the gun they heard about on the radio. So they fired at the suspect, believing they are about to be fired upon."
Aduddell grew up in San Jose and lived with his mother and sister in South San Jose. He once worked as a motorcycle mechanic but lately supported himself with odd jobs, Dell said. She added that while he had two felony strikes against him, his decision to flee was likely influenced by his distrust of police rather than trying not to get caught doing something illegal.
"He hadn't done anything wrong," Dell said. "He was fighting addiction. It doesn't make them bad people. They suffer from a disease, but it doesn't mean he was violent."
Police ask that anyone who finds a gun between the areas of Bascom and Union avenues and South San Jose to contact them. Anyone with information about the case can contact Detective Sgt. Dave Gutierrrez or Detective Liz Checke at 408-277-5283 or leave a tip with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-STOP (7867) or tipsubmit.org.
Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.