MODESTO — Modesto police detectives have now confirmed that a false imprisonment suspect who was shot dead by deputies in July took his wife hostage.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department has now released body camera footage of the shooting and rescue that took place on Vine and Madison streets on July 17.
“I believe the public has a right to know as much as we can possibly tell them and our intention is to do that as soon as we can do it professionally,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse said.
Dirkse’s office released body camera footage from two of the four deputies involved in Stephen Murray’s death.
Murray was a suspected car thief who had held a woman — now identified as his wife — hostage.
“The intention was to arrest Mr. Murray and take him into custody to face charges and potentially trial for the crimes he was alleged to have committed,” Dirkse said.
Dirkse said Murray had taken his hostage to a home on S Jefferson Street in Modesto.
Deputies set up surveillance and finally got their chance to rescue the woman when they saw the pair near Vine and Madison streets in Modesto.
This is when the situation escalated.
“He had the victim in front of him, holding the gun in his hand and that’s what our deputies, the detectives were confronted with when they made contact,” Dirkse said.
Deputies later learned the gun Murray had in his possession was fake.
“Had that been a real gun and had he pulled the trigger, the victim would be dead and it wouldn’t have mattered if we were three feet away,” Dirkse exlained. “There would have been nothing that we could have done about it.”
Deputies were able to take the victim in safely.
Dirkse said she was frazzled, yet cooperative.
“Our goal, as a profession, specifically with the sheriff’s department is to be as transparent as we can, under the circumstances,’ Dirkse said.
Sheriff Dirkse said the public can also expect to see more body camera footage of an in-custody death that happened just hours before Murray’s incident.
“It is my intention that any time we have any kind of a critical incident like this, good, bad, or indifferent, we are gonna release a very similar video, in an effort to inform the public what happened,” Dirkse explained.
The sheriff also explained the reason only two body camera videos were released at this time is because the company that edited the video felt they were the best footage that represented what happened.
Dirkse said if there’s a request to release the two additional videos, he will do so.