The Orange County District Attorney’s office declined to press charges against Costa Mesa policeman Dana Potts in a non-fatal shooting last year. The agency published an investigation letter about the incident yesterday afternoon. Bradley Montgomery, a 49-year-old, survived a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
According to the OCDA report, Costa Mesa police responded to a call on the morning of Aug. 15, 2018 regarding a man attempting to break into the patio of an apartment residence. Potts and fellow officer Isidro Gallardo began looking for the suspect, guns still in holsters. Suddenly, Gallardo heard a single gunshot fire off. Potts walked towards the front door of a residence that Montgomery tried to break into and found him laying on the floor nursing his wound
Both Potts and Montgomery refused to speak with investigators about the shooting.
The OCDA looked at other available evidence, including Potts’ digital audio recorder. “Oh shoot!” he said moments after shooting. “What did you have in your hands?” Officer Ryan Novikoff arrived on scene before the shooting and recalled that Potts told him that it looked like Montgomery had something in his hands. Potts asked the suspect if he had a metal stick, but he denied having anything. Police later retrieved two metal objects from the scene.
If Potts sounds familiar, it’s because former district attorney Tony Rackauckas cleared him of another non-fatal shooting in 2012. In that incident, the cop located a stolen truck driven by Vincent Leon at the New Harbor Inn motel. Leon struck Potts’ patrol car twice. Potts fired six times at the truck the second time, but didn’t hit Leon.
The officer gave a voluntary statement to investigators; not so in the Montgomery shooting. Either way, district attorney Todd Spitzer’s crew cited a “lack of sufficient evidence” to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Potts acted criminally.
“It appears that Officer Potts acted justifiably when he shot Montgomery,” the report concludes. “It was dark, Montgomery was dressed in all black, was observed climbing over a wall into an enclosed, locked patio which had an open sliding glass door of a residence. This could have reasonably created a belief in Officer Potts’ mind that the use of lethal force was necessary to stop the threat that Montgomery was posing.”
The OCDA charged Montgomery with misdemeanor prowling, a crime that he pleaded guilty to on Feb. 19, 2019 and received a 30-day sentence for.
As always, read the report in its entirety online.
Gabriel San Román is from Anacrime. He’s a journalist, subversive historian and the tallest Mexican in OC. He also once stood falsely accused of writing articles on Turkish politics in exchange for free food from DönerG’s!