SAN JOSE — Police announced they have launched their second homicide investigation of 2023 after a man died this past weekend from injuries he suffered when another man hit him with his car during an altercation at the turn of the new year.
Officers were called at 2:48 a.m. Jan. 1 to an apartment complex near North Jackson Avenue south of Alexian Drive for a report of an assault. They arrived to find a man suffering from serious injuries consistent with being hit by a vehicle, according to San Jose police.
The injured man was rushed to a local hospital, and police said he was initially expected to survive, but he died Sunday. He was identified by the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office as 52-year-old Ernest Pino Valenzuela.
An assault investigation started shortly after the Jan. 1 police call determined that the now-deceased man was in an altercation with another man at an apartment complex, and that at some point the second man used his vehicle as a weapon.
The second man was initially arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, though he was later released; his identity has not been disclosed by police. After the injured man died, the case was transferred to the SJPD homicide unit, which will present their findings to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for evaluation of potential charges.
Additional details about the circumstances of the homicide were not immediately available Tuesday, but police said the two men knew each other and that the incident was not a chance encounter.
The first homicide of the year investigated by police also involved a man who died from injuries suffered on New Year’s Day. Leroy Benjamin, 62 was shot near West San Carlos Street and the Highway 87 overpass, and died Jan. 9; a shooting suspect has been arrested in that case.
Anyone with information for investigators can contact SJPD homicide Detective Sgt. Mike White at firstname.lastname@example.org or Detective Sgt. John Van Den Broeck at email@example.com, or call 408-277-5283. Tips can also be left with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-7867 or at svcrimestoppers.org.