Deputy who fired lethal shot acted in self defense

An officer walks through the scene at Shangri La Drive and Nathan Hill Drive in Canyon Country following an officer-involved shooting on Jan. 13, 2016. (KATHARINE LOTZE/Signal)
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A local sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot a man in Canyon Country during a traffic stop a little more than a year ago fired the fatal shot in self defense,  Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced today.

Deputy Nathan Gillespie of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station acted lawfully in self defense when he shot Miguel Hernandez on Jan. 13, 2016, according to a report prepared by the DA’s Justice System Integrity Division.

The judgement rendered in the Hernandez case is one of more than 60 officer-involved shootings cases in 2016 that were also reviewed and completed by the special DA unit and made public Thursday.

The conclusions reached by the JSID were based, according to the DA, on investigative reports, audio recordings of interviews, the autopsy report, crime scene diagrams and sketches, photographic evidence, and witness statements submitted to the District Attorney’s office by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detectives Daniel Morris and Richard Tomlin.

The review included the voluntary statement of Deputy Nathan Gillespie.

According to the JSID report, Hernandez failed to follow Gillespie’s orders after having stopped the car he was driving on Nathan Hill Road and having then stepped out of the vehicle.

The car – a two-tone white and tan Lexus – matched the description of a car sought in connection with an earlier road rage incident.

At gunpoint, Hernandez was ordered to turn off his car, according to the report.  He was also ordered to show his hands.

The report states; “Hernandez did not comply and quickly turned towards Gillespie while moving his right hand.  Fearing that Hernandez had retrieved a gun and was about to shoot him, Gillespie fired one round from his service weapon, striking Hernandez in the left shoulder. Hernandez fell face first to the ground.”

The report continues to describe how “something” was heard hitting the ground when deputies lifted Hernandez off the ground and that a “black folding knife that was locked in the open position” was found on the ground under Hernandez’s right foot.”

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