Deputy Sheriff Dennis Earl Phelps

Deputy Sheriff Dennis Earl Phelps

Fresno County Sheriff's Office, California

End of Watch Monday, May 20, 2002

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Dennis Earl Phelps

Deputy Sheriff Dennis Phelps was shot and killed after stopping a vehicle at 11:44 pm that had been involved in a shooting 10 minutes earlier.

Radio contact was lost after he advised dispatch of the stop at Shepherd east of Locan in Clovis. A responding Clovis Police Officer found Deputy Phelps on the ground, and his gun, radio, and patrol car had been stolen by the suspect. Deputy Phelps was flown to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Another deputy located the subject driving the patrol car and began to pursue it. The man opened fire and shot out the responding deputy's windows, injuring him.

The subject crashed the car and fled on foot. He remained at large during an extensive manhunt involving over 165 officers from 12 agencies. On the third day of the search, the man fired at a department helicopter, striking its rotor blade. On May 25th, 2002, the man was shot and killed when he was surrounded and exited a trailer while carrying Deputy Phelps' rifle and refused to surrender in the Prather area of Fresno County.

Deputy Phelps served with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office for three years and had served in law enforcement since the early 1980s. He had completed training as a patrol deputy one week prior to the shooting. He is survived by his wife, daughter, son, parents, and sister.


  • Age 47
  • Tour 6 years
  • Badge 445

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Incident Date Sunday, May 19, 2002
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Shot and killed

traffic stop

Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Sheriff Phelps,
On today, the 20th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of Fresno County. And to your Family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.


United States Border Patrol

May 20, 2022

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