Santa Ana officer was justified in shooting, injuring armed man, DA investigators determine – Orange County Register

A Santa Ana police detective was justified in shooting and injuring a man accused of brandishing a handgun at officers, an Orange County District Attorney’s Office investigation has concluded.

DA investigators found that Det. Cpl. Roland Andrade acted reasonably when he shot 23-year-old Max Lopez shortly before 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2016, according to a letter outlining the results of the DA investigation that became public on Monday.

Andrade and other members of the city’s gang unit were conducting extra patrols in the North Parton Street area after a gang-related shooting that evening. The officers were speaking to several people when Lopez broke away from the group, looking over his shoulder and “manipulating something in his pocket or waistband area” as he walked away, the DA’s letter says.

The officers told DA investigators that Lopez suddenly began running while continuing to clench “the object in his waistband.” According to the report, Andrade saw Lopez pull a handgun from his waistband and point it toward (him) and another detective.”

Lopez ignored the officers’ commands to stop and get on the ground, they told the DA investigators. Andrade said he believed Lopez was a danger to him, the other officers and the others in the neighborhood and fired four to five shots at Lopez, who ran for 10 to 15 feet more before collapsing, the report says.

DNA found on the gun tied the weapon to Lopez, DA investigators wrote.

Lopez, who admitted smoking methamphetamine several hours before his encounter with police, told the DA investigators that he wasn’t aware that they were officers, the report says. He denied having a gun, saying he was holding a cell phone and reaching for a meth pipe in his sweater pocket.

Three days after the shooting, Lopez was charged with several firearm-possession-related felonies. He eventually pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to three years in prison.

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