OC DA Clears Officer In Yet Another Santa Ana Police Shooting

OC DA Clears Officer In Yet Another Santa Ana Police Shooting

Just after midnight on September 10, 2012, Marcelino Almanza argued with a wheelchair-bound drug dealer in Santa Ana. An onlooker in a nearby motel called police to the 1300 block of W. Segerstrom Ave. Identified only as "John Doe," the witness pointed police to a suspicious silver jeep nearby the two men. Officer David Enriquez rolled up in his patrol car and flashed his lights on them.

"Oh shit!" Almanza allegedly yelled before running and taking cover behind the jeep's open driver's side door.

In the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office investigation into the incident, Enriquez said Almanza appeared to be holding a handgun before he took cover. Without any cover of his own, the cop felt threatened. Enriquez fired six rounds at Almanza. Almanza cried out in pain and surrendered. Two bullets struck his right arm. The shooting was non-fatal. Almanza was treated for his wounds after being transferred to UCI Medical Center in Orange.

The OCDA interviewed witness Doe, who said Almanza had tried to burglarize his motel room a week before the shooting. He also corroborated Enriquez's version of the shooting. Doe's wife filmed the incident on her notebook computer, however the OCDA didn't release the footage.

Authorities recovered a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver, a crack pipe and a baggie with white powder from the scene. Almanza gave his poorly spelled version of why he ran through a written statement:

"I told him to toss a gun I didnt want to get cought with, at wich point I was infront of the vehicle and got the got the gun out and toss it as far as I could," he wrote.

Almanza was later convicted and sentenced to 6 years in state prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm and unlawful taking of a vehicle.

"A logical interpretation of these facts is that Officer Enriquez reasonably believed that Almanza was holding a firearm," the report reads, "and given the opportunity, Almanza would have shot at Officer Enriquez."

Read the investigation letter in its entirety online.

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2

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