The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office announced this week that five officers who shot and killed a domestic violence suspect in Redwood City in November will not be charged in the case.
Abran Gutierrez, 36, died in the shooting on Nov. 15 on El Camino Real, a main thoroughfare in the city, near the intersection with Maple Street, police and prosecutors said.
Luke Shoats, William Wolfe, Nicholas Muniz, Victor Figueroa and Jose Montoya were the five officers who opened fire at Gutierrez after a confrontation in which Gutierrez allegedly tried to use a woman and children as a shield, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Tuesday.
In a letter to Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland, Wagstaffe described the case as “a dynamic, traumatic event where toddlers and infants, the most vulnerable amongst us, were placed in direct threat of great bodily harm or death by the reckless and dangerous acts of Mr. Gutierrez.”
An investigation by the District Attorney's Office determined that police had responded around 3pm on Nov. 15 to a report of a disturbance on El Camino Real and found Gutierrez along with the mother of his child and some young children on the sidewalk next to cars parked at the curb.
An argument inside the car had escalated and prompted the woman to pull over and say she was calling 911. After a brief interaction between Gutierrez and a responding officer, Gutierrez allegedly pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officer, who moved back and tried to get people away from the area, prosecutors said.
Gutierrez then held onto the woman and two children inside a car while pointing the gun at them as other officers were arriving on the scene. Officers were eventually able to open fire at Gutierrez as he moved into view in the rear passenger seat, away from the woman and kids, according to the district attorney's report.
After he was struck and incapacitated, Gutierrez was taken to a hospital and died there. The woman suffered injuries not related to the shooting and was also hospitalized, while the children involved were not injured, Redwood City police said.
An autopsy of Gutierrez found he had methamphetamine and other substances in his system at the time of his death, and the mother of his child had reported he had been experiencing paranoia and heard voices for about two months leading up to the day of the shooting.
Earlier that day, Gutierrez had insisted that the young child they shared together was sick and needed to go to the doctor, but when they arrived at the health center, he refused to release the child so the nurse could examine her. After they left, the argument ensued that prompted the police response and eventual shooting, prosecutors said.
Wagstaffe's report concluded that the five officers “were justified in their use of lethal force under California law” and protected the lives of the victims “as well as their own lives and those of civilians who happened to be present on a busy thoroughfare in the middle of the day.”