When 25 recruits from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy were out jogging, a driver plowed into them. Investigators concluded the incident was intentional. However, the murder suspect was then released, and Sheriff Alex Villanueva blasted the district attorney and cited “un-reasonable doubt.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva has had a very contentious relationship with District Attorney George Gascon. Numerous times, Villanueva has blasted the DA’s policies, especially when it comes to allowing dangerous felons to go free.
According to the Daily Mail, LA’s County sheriff has likened District Attorney Gascon to an ego-crazed Moses with rules written in stone as he blasted the DA for rejecting 13,238 of his deputy’s cases. Sheriff Villanueva claims Gascon dismissed the huge number of cases presented to him since taking office in 2020 because they “don’t conform to his special directives.”
“He showed up like Moses with his 10 commandments with his tablets and said, ‘Here’s my special orders, take ’em or take ’em,”’ Sheriff Villanueva told Fox News. “That does not promote a good working relationship. The deputies are going to continue doing their job, they make the arrests, they’ll write the reports, but then what happens after it’s submitted to the D.A. is where it all falls apart.”
That sentiment was echoed by Sheriff Villanueva after 25 recruits attending the Sheriff’s academy were hit by a driver who was then released in what is being described as a “shocking reversal.” The driver who did so intentionally, according to investigators. “They developed probable cause to believe it was intentional,” Sheriff Villanueva said in an interview with NewsNation.
Although the investigators did not go into specifics as to why they believe it was a deliberate act, 22-year-old Nick Guiterrez, who was going the wrong way, showed no sign of impairment and blew a zero on a Breathalyzer test. There were no skid marks visible at the scene, the sheriff said. However, when asked to comment on the release of Guiterrez, Sheriff Villanueva took aim at DA Gascon.
“We operate under prosecutor George Gascón,” the sheriff said. “We definitely have grave concerns about his ability to prosecute. We are actually going to provisionally release him (Gutierrez) until we can have the case ironclad, iron proof, and submitted to the DA for filing consideration. Right now, we want to tie up all the loose ends on the case and then present it to the DA. We already had probable cause to arrest, but now we have to take it to beyond unreasonable doubt.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva outlined the investigation. “[Investigators] went through an exhaustive interview process with everyone involved, with the video surveillance, statements from the recruits, the physical evidence they have, and what they got from the suspect himself, and they were able to form the opinion that this was a deliberate act,” he said.
District Attorney George Gascon made some changes after taking office in December 2020, including ordering his deputy district attorneys to stop seeking enhancement allegations, which can significantly extend prison sentences, not seeking the death penalty, and barring prosecutors from charging juveniles as adults, regardless of the severity of the allegations. “Astonishing number of cases [Gascon has failed to prosecute],” Villanueva told Fox News “These are people that did bad things that left a victim, have the evidence presented, and [Gascon’s office] said ‘don’t bother.’”
The 25 police recruits, who were all wearing white T-shirts and green shorts, were on what sheriff’s Capt. Ted McDonald of the department’s training bureau described as a “typical run,” part of the department’s 22-week training course. They were accompanied by two safety vehicles and were running in four lines when they were hit, McDonald said.
Five cadets were left in critical condition, four others had moderate injuries, and another 16 suffered minor injuries. Villanueva said the most serious ones included head trauma, broken bones, and “loss of limb.” Sheriff Alex Villanueva described a chaotic scene just after the crash, saying it “looked like an airplane wreck. There were so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injury that it was pretty traumatic for all individuals involved.”