OC DA Clears Santa Ana Gang Unit Cop in Non-Fatal Shooting Last Year
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Santa Ana Gang Detectives patrolled a neighborhood claimed by Krazy Proud Criminals on the night of Jan. 17 last year after a drive-by shooting. They didn't find a bunch of armed cholos gathered outside protecting their hood following the incident, but did eye three young men they suspected of being gang members standing on North Parton Street with two hynas.
According to a report by the Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office, detectives Roland Andrade and Sergio Gutierrez approached the group on foot to ask them about the shooting when somebody yelled out "jura!"—Chicano slang for "police." The men started walking away when the jura followed. Max Lopez, a 23-year-old, broke away from the two. Andrade told OCDA investigators he saw him look over his shoulder while fiddling around in his pocket or waistband.
The detective's recounting, seamlessly woven into the report's factual summary, held that Lopez started running while clutching something that Andrade feared could be a gun. A third detective on scene popped out from his hiding spot behind a van to detain the two men who complied with his orders. The same couldn't be said for Lopez. All three gang cops yelled commands that he ignored. Andrade saw Lopez pull a black handgun from his waistband and point it at him while running in his direction.
Fearing for his life and the safety of others, Andrade fired a couple shots at Lopez from 30 feet away. It took two more rounds to finally down the man, with his handgun making a metallic "clink" sound when it bounced off the concrete. Andrade called paramedics to the scene and Lopez survived his wounds after being transferred to Orange County Global Medical Center in SanTana.
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For his part, Lopez later told OCDA investigators he witnessed the drive-by but a man in a black shirt and blue jeans told him "Let me see your hands," that evening without identifying himself as police. He also admitted to smoking meth a couple hours before the encounter and said he had a meth pipe in his hooded sweatshirt pocket, but no gun. Lopez claimed he only held a cellphone in hand and if his DNA came up on the stolen gun—as it did—it was because he touched a similar looking one a couple days before the shooting.
With a past criminal record, the OCDA loaded up on Lopez with multiple felony firearm possession charges. He plead guilty to all of them last month, admitting that he brandished a gun in front of Andrade, and is now serving a three-year sentence in state prison.
The OCDA cleared the gang detective of any wrongdoing with a standard line. "Andrade was justified when he shot at Lopez," the legal analysis reads. "[He] did not commit a crime, but carried out his duties as a peace officer in a reasonable and justifiable manner."
As always, read the report in its entirety online.
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