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Former Hollister officer charged with felonies

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A former Hollister police officer who was shot at by police Sunday after allegedly stealing a car and driving it onto a field in Gilroy has been charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Chad Browning, 42, of Fresno, was arrested and booked into Santa Clara County Jail with bail of $250,000 on Sunday evening, according to Gilroy police. He was charged Tuesday with felonies of assaulting a police officer with a deadly weapon and vehicle theft, in addition to misdemeanors of petty theft and methamphetamine possession.

Hollister police spokesman Sgt. Don Pershall confirmed today that Browning was an officer in the department from 2002 to 2007. He said he can’t discuss the reason for Browning’s departure because it is a private personnel matter.

Gilroy police first learned of a stolen vehicle out of Fresno on Sunday morning. The theft bulletin said the suspect was a former police officer who had stolen a car and recently tried to get a gun from a family member, according to police.

Browning called Gilroy police at about 1 p.m. Sunday and said the woman who had reported the stolen vehicle had been kidnapped. He also told officers the stolen vehicle belonged to him, according to police.

Police said he refused to provide more information and hung up the phone, which he had allegedly stolen from someone with developmental disabilities who let him borrow it.

He then called police again and told them about athletic games happening at Gilroy High School, and his desire to fight with officers.

Police responded to the area and found him driving through an unoccupied field adjacent to the school’s stadium, where hundreds of fifth- and sixth-graders were playing Pop Warner football.

Police said the children’s parents recognized the danger, rushed to close football field gates and were able to prevent any injuries.

Realizing there was no other exit, Browning allegedly drove back the way he had entered and drove directly toward an officer who was on foot.

Police said the officer was in a confined area with no escape and shot at Browning’s vehicle to protect himself.

Police said in a news release:

“The officer was aware of the risks in the area and knew his backdrop was clear of any other people, minimizing risks to those uninvolved in the incident.”

Browning was not hit by the gunfire, but then lost control of the vehicle and surrendered to officers. No one was injured during the arrest, according to police.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Gilroy police at (408) 846-0350.

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