On an October evening in 2012, Jaime Guillen got drunk in a Santa Ana alley with his girl and some friends. As he became belligerent, he pulled out a black pellet gun. Friends tried to calm him, but he took off towards Santa Ana High School. Along the way, he followed two men that had left the school's auditorium, pointed the pellet gun at one man and demanded money. His friend ran back to the auditorium to tell people about the armed robbery. Santa Ana Police arrived on scene shortly after.
In a letter delivered to Chief Carlos Rojas this week, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) details what happened next. Shortly after 10 p.m., officers David Enriquez and Antonio Graham pulled up to Santa Ana High School. By that time, Guillen hid the pellet gun in nearby bushes. A number of men from the school auditorium began chasing after him.
They pointed officers to an alley by South Birch Street. Guillen paced in a backyard as cops crept up on him. Officer Graham ordered Guillen to the ground but said the man refused to fully comply and actively looked for an escape. When Graham climbed a fence, the robber got up from the ground and ran, stumbling over trashcans along the way. Officer Enriquez fired four shots at Guillen.
When Graham caught up to him, he tackled and punched Guillen a number of times. Conducting a search, the Santa Ana cop noticed blood on his hand and realized one of his partner's bullets struck Guillen in the thigh.
In a statement given to OCDA investigators, Graham says at the time of the gunshots, he couldn't see Guillen's hands relative to his waistband. Enriquez offered no statement at all, so what prompted him to open fire at that moment remains unknown.
For Guillen's part, he peddled a number of stories about that night. In one version, he claimed he had no weapon, wasn't drunk and that a gang member by Santa Ana High School shot him. Blood tests showed him clocking in at .22, more than twice the legal limit. In a court case last year, Guillen pleaded guilty to second degree robbery, brandishing an imitation firearm and street terrorism with gang enhancements. A judge sentenced him to three years in prison.
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With a familiar refrain the OCDA cleared officer Enriquez of criminal culpability. "While Officer Enriquez did not give a voluntary statement," the report added, "Officer Graham's account given in his voluntary statement was considered in determining the reasonableness of Officer Enriquez's actions under the circumstances."
The OCDA report can be read in its entirety online.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz