The horrific story of the 25 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recruits mowed down by a driver on Wednesday just got worse.
After police arrested Nicholas Gutierrez for attempted murder, they let him walk… without bail.
The wrong-way driver is accused of plowing his SUV into a large group of 75 Sheriff’s Department recruits, police departments and staff who were running in formation, early Wednesday morning.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva says the crash that injured 25 law enforcement recruits in South Whittier Wednesday morning was not an accident.
“(Investigators) went through an exhaustive interview process with everyone involved, with the video surveillance statements from the recruits, the physical evidence they had, and what they got from the suspect himself. And they were able to form the opinion that this was a deliberate act,” Villanueva told NewsNation Thursday.
The driver, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was originally arrested for “attempted murder of a peace officer.” However, the sheriff’s department said he was released from custody Thursday due to insufficient grounds to file charges.
“Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was released from police custody late Thursday — just hours after officials announced that he had been charged with attempted murder in connection with Wednesday’s devastating wrong-way wreck,” Fox News reported.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said early Friday morning that the agency had released Gutierrez just before 10 p.m. local time Thursday.
Police investigators insist that they have probable cause and evidence to support those charges.
“Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on peace officers for Wednesday’s crash that injured 25 recruits, but jail records show he was released at 9:49 p.m. due to insufficient evidence a crime was committed.”
“I have no doubt that an in-depth investigation will confirm that Nicholas is a hard working young man who holds no animosity towards law enforcement, and this was an absolutely tragic accident,” Alexandra Kazarian, Gutierrez’s attorney, said in a statement to Eyewitness News.
Could this release of the suspect without bail be a direct result of the policies of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon? Remember, Gascón’s 2020 campaign was funded by billionaire oligarch George Soros, with more than $2.5 million. Gascón ran for District Attorney on a promise of turning the court system upside down, and eliminating cash bail.
Notably, the 800 member Association of Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles, voted overwhelmingly in February to support the recall of George Gascón, the elected District Attorney of LA County. The vote came after Gascón refused an invitation to address the prosecutors of his office to explain and defend his policies and provide his arguments why he should not be recalled.
The recall never qualified for the ballot.
There is speculation that the Sheriff’s Department and prosecutors want to make sure the case is bullet proof before presenting to the District Attorney.
“Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the suspect was only released until investigators can develop more evidence and present a stronger case for prosecutors.”
It’s hard to imagine they didn’t have enough evidence to hold Gutierrez – but maybe not in Gascón country.
The Los Angeles Times reported just that:
“Once investigators have built a case, they plan to arrest Gutierrez and present the case to the L.A. County district attorney’s office, Magos said.”
“The evidence is there,” he said. “We just want to make sure it’s properly presented.”
Apparently the case is “complex” enough that more evidence is needed:
“Due to the extreme complexity of the investigation, which includes ongoing interviews, video surveillance review, and additional evidence needed to be analyzed, homicide investigators have released Mr. Gutierrez from the Sheriff’s Department custody,” a news release from authorities said.
25 of the recruits were injured, five of them critically, KTLA reported.
“Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”
The Globe will follow up on this legal case.
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