Prosecutors: Deputies acted in self-defense when they shot, wounded suspect

LASD units responded in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Fire Department to the officer involved shooting in Newhall, Calif. on the evening of Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2017. Ryan Painter/The Signal.
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Prosecutors assigned to review deputy-involved shootings announced Wednesday that the four Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who fired their weapons at Monolito Guerra almost two years ago did so lawfully and in self-defense.

The Justice System Integrity Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office released details of its review of the non-fatal shooting of Guerra that happened  in Newhall on Nov. 28, 2017. Involved in the shooting were Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies Albert White, Tanner Sanchez, Benjamin Sanchez and Robert Garcia.

“We have determined that Deputy Albert White acted in lawful self-defense when he fired his duty weapon (and that) Deputy Tanner Sanchez, Deputy Benjamin Sanchez and Deputy Robert Garcia acted in lawful self-defense and defense of others when they fired their duty weapons,” the report concludes.

The DA’s Command Center was notified about two and a half hours after the shooting, prompting the DA’s Response Team to respond to the scene where team members were briefed and taken on a walk-through by LASD Lt. Joe Mendoza.

In reviewing the case, prosecutors looked at recorded interviews, 9-1-1 calls, and photographs submitted by the LASD Homicide Bureau. 

Shooting account

The following is a blow-by-blow account of the shooting provided by prosecutors:

On Nov. 28, about 10 p.m., a woman was driving her car in search for a parking space at an apartment complex on Bottletree Lane in Newhall. 

Guerra walked up to the woman’s car and pointed a pistol at her.

The woman fled the area and called 9-1-1.

Deputies responded to the apartment complex to locate Guerra, who was believed to reside at an apartment near where he confronted the woman. 

Hiding in back seat

Guerra became aware of the deputies’ presence and hid in the rear passenger compartment of a Ford Fusion parked near this apartment, and adjoining the pool area of the complex. 

Guerra lay along the backseat and covered himself with a windshield sunshade while deputies set up a containment of the apartment they believed he may have entered. 

White checked a row of parked cars nearby, one of which was the Ford Fusion. He saw a person lying across the rear seat of the Ford Fusion under a sunshade. 

White opened the rear passenger door on the driver side, saw Guerra grab a revolver, and instructed Guerra to freeze.

Guerra fired his revolver at White, shooting him one time in the neck, as Guerra “propelled himself” out of the car. 

Fired several rounds

White fired several rounds at Guerra, and then fell down on the sidewalk adjacent to the Ford Fusion.

White heard another gunshot and believed Guerra had shot him in the back. He got back up and ran away from Guerra. 

White last saw Guerra standing to the rear of the Ford Fusion, groaning and holding his midsection. 

Tanner Sanchez heard a voice shout either, “Show me your hands,” or “Drop the gun.” Tanner Sanchez heard two gunshots, and then a third gunshot that appeared to him to be from a second firearm.

Tanner Sanchez ran to assist and heard White yell, “I’m hit. I’m hit.”

Tanner Sanchez could not see White, but heard a fourth gunshot and looked in the direction of the audible gunfire. He saw Guerra crouched behind a parked car with his arms extended out from his body and his hands clenched together holding what Tanner Sanchez believed to be a pistol.

Tanner Sanchez believed Guerra had shot White and that Guerra was looking to shoot additional deputies. 

9 to 10 rounds fired

From approximately 20 to 25 feet away, Tanner Sanchez fired two volleys of shots totaling nine to 10 rounds at Guerra, who retreated to the rear of the Ford Fusion. 

Tanner Sanchez repositioned himself and saw Guerra lying on the ground motionless with a chrome revolver next to one of his hands.

Benjamin Sanchez also assisted in setting up a containment when he initially heard two gunshots and a deputy’s commands to “drop the gun” followed by additional gunshots from a second firearm.

Benjamin Sanchez ran to assist and focused his attention on the area where he saw muzzle flashes. 

He heard a deputy yell, “I’m hit,” and believed a deputy had been shot.

From his position, Benjamin Sanchez had a clear line of sight down the length of the sidewalk along the parked cars, including the Ford Fusion.

Benjamin Sanchez saw Guerra crouching behind a car and pointing a chrome handgun at deputies positioned north of Guerra.

Fearing for their lives, Benjamin Sanchez fired his service weapon three times at Guerra. 

Garcia saw White checking a line of parked cars moments before he heard someone yell, “Show me your hands. Show me your hands.”

Garcia heard eight to 12 gunshots and saw muzzle flashes from where he had last seen White.

Shot in the neck

Garcia ran to provide assistance and saw White emerge from that area holding his neck. 

Believing White had been shot, he provided cover for White and another deputy who was now assisting White. 

Garcia saw Guerra “pop up” from behind the trunk area of the Ford Fusion and look in his direction.

Guerra was extending his arms out from his body. 

Fearing that Guerra was preparing to aim a pistol and shoot him and other deputies, Garcia fired his duty weapon one time at Guerra. 

Simultaneously, Garcia heard other gunshots he believed to be fired from other deputies. 

After Garcia fired his duty weapon, Guerra went out of Garcia’s sight, and Garcia heard Benjamin Sanchez yell, “He’s down. He’s down.”

Garcia and Benjamin Sanchez arrested Guerra who was lying on the ground within reach of a .357 magnum revolver. 

The revolver’s cylinder was later examined and contained four expended .38 special cartridge casings and one live .38 special round inside.

Benjamin Sanchez recovered eight live .38 special cartridges from Guerra’s pockets. 

Shot multiple times

Guerra was shot multiple times, and he was transported to the hospital. He survived his injuries.

White was treated for a gunshot wound to the neck and survived his injuries.

Investigators interviewed Guerra at the hospital. 

Guerra stated that he pointed a gun at a woman inside a car, and he believed the woman called the police. 

Guerra became aware that deputies arrived at the apartment complex and he believed they were looking for him. 

Guerra hid beneath a windshield sunshade in the back seat of a parked car, and could see a deputy’s flashlight shining inside the car. 

When the deputy opened the backseat door, Guerra shot the deputy. The deputy fell back and fired back. 

Guerra exited the car and shot the deputy again, causing the deputy to fall near a mailbox adjoining the parking spaces.

Guerra gave conflicting accounts about whether he shot at other deputies while kneeling behind the Ford Fusion.

Preliminary hearing

Guerra was charged in case number PA090160 with several felony counts, including three counts of willful, deliberate, premeditated attempted murder of Deputies White, Tanner Sanchez and Garcia.

The matter is pending a preliminary hearing.

Guerra is scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on Nov. 18.



On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt

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