The driver of an SUV that struck 25 Los Angeles County sheriffs and police officers, injuring five of them, was arrested Wednesday on charges of attempted murder, authorities said.
Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, a 22-year-old Diamond Bar resident, has been charged with attempted murder of a peace officer, and additional charges are pending. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.
Officials have not released any casualties from Wednesday morning’s crash in Whittier. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference Wednesday that one of the five critically injured was on a ventilator. More serious injuries include head injuries, broken bones and loss of limbs, he added.
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Before Gutierrez was arrested, Villanueva said he administered a field sobriety test at the scene, but the results showed the driver was not intoxicated.
Gutierrez’s SUV was traveling in the southbound lanes, crossed into the northbound lanes, and struck the men. 75 The recruiting team is made up of members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff and local police departments.
The accident happened around 6.30 am after sunrise. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Training Bureau Capt. Pat MacDonald earlier said two black-and-white radio cars serve as security vehicles for the group, and eight road patrol officers wearing reflective vests. Some employees told responding officers that they estimated the vehicle was going 30 to 40 mph.
Homicide investigators are continuing to investigate the incident, and Gutierrez has not been granted bail, officials said.
Online jail records show Gutierrez is scheduled to appear in court Friday. It was not immediately known if an attorney was available to speak on Gutierrez’s behalf.
Sheriff’s officials have not yet presented their case against Gutierrez to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and said they expected to do so Friday.
Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, a defense attorney who previously worked as a prosecutor in nearby Riverside County, said prosecutors must prove Gutierrez had intent to kill to file attempted murder charges.
“There’s a high bar to prove that, to show that this guy was trying to kill these cadets,” he told The Associated Press. Evidence from the vehicle could be crucial, he said, with a key question being whether the driver applied the brakes when the vehicle was moving toward the men.
“It’s a lot different than him slamming on the brakes and realizing he’s doing something wrong,” he said.
Contributed by: Associated Press
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