OC DA Clears Tustin Police in Officer-Involved Shooting That Wasn't

Justifications that-a-way!
Justifications that-a-way!

Earlier this week, the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office released the full "Who Shot Ya?" report on Nicolas Vizcarra. As readers recall, the Tustin man suffered a bullet wound to his leg on March 2, 2014. Though police fired on him that day, they believed it was self-inflicted.

So was Vizcarra struck during an officer-involved shooting or not?

According to the OCDA report, Tustin police initially responded to a domestic violence call at Vizcarra's apartment home on the morning of March 2. Having left the scene before they arrived, Vizcarra returned around noon with his leg bandaged up. He told his mother that police shot him and that he'd being staying at a hotel for the night.

But Vizcarra returned to his Tustin apartment again around 4 p.m. for some father-son time. Teaching his eight-year old how to shoot a gun, Vizcarra pulled a pistol out of a black box and fired a single round into a lemon tree outside. The boy's grandmother called police but, again, Vizcarra left before officer Gustavo Gonzalez arrived a half-hour later.

At about 6 p.m., Tustin cop Andrew Gleason caught sight of Vizcarra driving a Cadillac Escalade and tried to pull him over. Talking with Vizcarra's family members outside their apartment, Gonzalez ran to assist Gleason when he saw the Escalade jump the sidewalk towards him.

Fearing for his life, the cop fired three rounds. Vizcarra pulled his SUV back onto the street almost colliding with another patrol car. Gonzalez fired one more time before Vizcarra surrendered with his hands up.

The OCDA report states that all of Gonzalez's bullets struck Vizcarra's vehicle but not Vizcarra. Santa Ana Western Medical Center staff treated a bullet wound he suffered on his leg. He told them he got shot that morning but didn't say by whom. Vizacarra added that he removed the bullet himself with the help of a little booze and a butter knife.

In statements to the OCDA and Tustin police, Vizcarra told a slightly different story. He said a cop shot him around 8 a.m. when he jumped a wall from his home into Tustin Hospital's parking lot. OCDA investigators dismissed the charge saying that GPS trackers placed no patrol cars there at the time and that Vizcarra initially told arresting officers he shot himself.

With that, the OCDA cleared officer Gonzalez of criminal culpability. Vizcarra wasn't so lucky. He pleaded guilty to felony child abuse, possession of a firearm by a felon and firing it with gross negligence charges. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

As always, read the report in its entirety online.

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2

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