Driver Who Ran Over 25 Police Recruits Allegedly Fell Asleep At The Wheel

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Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of peace officers after driving into a crowd of police recruits that were on a run. Several of them were injured by Gutierrez’s reckless driving.  

The SUV swerved into a group of 75 cadets, and the sheriff’s office had two patrol cars escorting those runners. Out of the group, 25 of the police recruits were injured. Five were in critical condition, four suffered moderate injuries, and 14 suffered minor injuries.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested Gutierrez and charged him with attempted murder on a peace officer(s) with other charges pending. He was released from custody later that day.

Due to the complexity of the investigation, investigators released Gutierrez from custody, telling news sources that they wanted to make sure the investigation was complete before going through with their charges.

In most circumstances, prosecutors have 48 hours to arraign a person in custody. But in this case, the arraignment could be delayed up to 72 hours because of forensic evidence and technical data from the car.

A key factor in determining the charges of a complex case such as this is to find the intent. Experts said in order to determine a motive, they would need to discover specific intent evidence such as if the suspect hated the Sheriff’s Department or scouted information about the recruits and their training schedule ahead of time.

Gutierrez’s lawyer is alleging that the driver fell asleep at the wheel, making the incident unfortunate but accidental. However, others are arguing that the incident is much more deliberate.

Investigators are continuing to gather evidence against Gutierrez. Once they have enough material to make a case, they will re-arrest him and present it to prosecutors.

The case shines a light on the balancing act of bringing charges while following criminal procedure, including fact-gathering and constitutional rights. Many are confident that criminal charges will be filed, but the question is what can be substantiated by evidence.

John Nightbridge is a veteran reporter, researcher, and economic policy major from UCLA. Passionate about world issues and potential ways to solve them is a significant focus of his work. Writing freelance and reading the news are John's passions at work. Outside of work, it's all about sky diving, surfing, and stock market modeling.