The driver of a minivan drew the attention of undercover cops in another vehicle in Garden Grove Thursday night, leading to uniformed officers being called in to question the man, the minivan charging at the approaching police and a lawman firing at and wounding the driver, authorities say. By the time the smoke cleared after the 8:15 p.m. incident, two minivans had crashed into one another in front of a strip center at Beach and Garden Grove boulevards, and the baddie was in the operating room of a local hospital.
The undercovers were conducting an investigation in the area when the unidentified man began driving toward them and acting suspiciously, Garden Grove Police Lt. Jeff Nightengale tells City News Service. Fearing their cover could be blown, the cops in the unmarked vehicle called uninformed officers in to question the guy, the department spokesman added.
As two officers approached the driver's minivan, he backed up and accelerated toward them, according to Nightengale, who went on to relate one officers fell down, and the other–fearing for his and his partner's life–fired multiple rounds into the vehicle.
The driver required surgery after being struck at least once by the police gunfire, Nightengale said. The wounded man's condition is not yet available.
As is routine in officer-involved shootings, this one is being investigated by the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).
In a statement emailed to the Weekly this morning, Nightengale added the driver was not the subject of the initial surveillance by the undercover officers, he was parked in a stall at the time the uniformed officers walked toward him, and the suspect was taken to UCI Medical Center in Orange. No officers were harmed.
Anyone with information that can help police of OCDA investigators is asked to call 714.741.5800.