Dash cam released from a 2022 fatal pursuit of 2 passengers after being ejected after a pit maneuver
Mercedes Martinez, one of two people ejected from a truck an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper spun out during a pursuit Aug. 15, has died.
Martinez, 26, and Ethan Mestes, 22, were ejected from a Ford Ranger that fled southbound from Oklahoma City to Norman on Interstate 35.
Trooper Nick Mills allegedly tried to pull the truck over for an equipment violation, learned during the pursuit through dispatch that the tags on the truck were stolen, and used a tactical vehicle intervention (TVI) on the car between Tecumseh and Rock Creek roads, according to statements from OHP.
Mestes was pronounced dead at the scene. Martinez was listed in critical condition after she was ejected, according to OHP.
The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office said in an email to The Transcript Tuesday morning that it will provide the report on Martinez' death once it's available.
The driver of the car, Alex Carpenter, 30, has been charged with first-degree murder, unauthorized use of a vehicle and eluding or attempting to elude a police officer in Cleveland County District Court.
He was given the murder charge under Oklahoma's felony murder rule, which says a suspect may be charged with murder if someone dies while they are committing another felony.
Carpenter had not been given a second murder charge in connection with Martinez' death as of Tuesday, according to court records.
Mills was placed on administrative leave following the pursuit as OHP conducts an internal investigation into the pursuit.
Agency spokesperson Sarah Stewart said the incident was still under investigation Tuesday.
OHP has declined to comment on the incident as it is still under investigation, Stewart said Tuesday.
Martinez is the 20th person to die in an OHP pursuit since May 2016. All but one of the pursuits began over a traffic violation or stolen property, according to Tulsa World.
OHP Trooper Eric Foster previously defended Mills' decision to spin out the car following Mestes death, arguing it was his responsibility to end the situation immediately for other drivers on the road.
He also said "science shows" that fleeing drivers won't stop driving erratically if they end the pursuit, which is contradicted by at least one study on the subject and a policing researcher.
Martinez' mother, Angela Cortez, said she didn't agree with what her daughter, Mestes and Carpenter did, but also doesn't agree "at all" with how OHP handled the pursuit.
"I want [it] explained to me why if they had to do it the way they did," she said.
Carpenter and Mestes were visiting Martinez from Pueblo, Colorado, because her stepfather and brother had recently died. Carpenter is the father of one of Martinez' children; Mestes was a friend, Cortez said.
Cortez said she was shocked when she heard the news. She said her daughter was funny, a good mother to her children, and enjoyed drawing when she wasn't working as a warehouse stocker.