Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Investigators believe that the man who allegedly drove a vehicle into a group of 75 police recruits on Wednesday, injuring 25 of them did so as a “deliberate act,” recommending that the case should move forward to the District Attorney on Friday. However, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was released from jail anyway according to CNN.
Records from Los Angeles showed that the initial complaint against Gutierrez, was insufficient to hold him CNN reported. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told NewsNation though that officials investigating the incident “developed probable cause to believe it’s intentional.”
— Paige Lobdell (@producerpaige_) November 18, 2022
After reviewing video surveillance, evidence from the scene, and interviewing witnesses and Gutierrez investigators came to their conclusion on Thursday but he was released at 9:49 p.m. PST nonetheless as CNN reported. However, the Sheriff’s office claims that this was not due to a mistake on its part.
“It’s not like they arrested the wrong suspect,” Deputy Deanna Mares explained to CNN Thursday. “They just want to make sure the investigation is going to be complete.” Mares continued adding the investigators still consider Gutierrez a suspect but required more time to collect evidence to present to the DA for charges.
“We are going to provisionally release him until we can have the case iron-clad, iron proof, and submitted to the DA,” Villanueva told NewsNation on Thursday according to The Post Millennial. “Right now, we want to tie up all the loose ends on the case and then present it to the DA.”
Police are required by law to present a case within 48 hours of an arrest and they reportedly were not ready to do so according to the outlet.
Gutierrez’s attorney Alexandra Kazarian, told KABC, “I have no doubt that an in-depth investigation will confirm that Nicholas is a hard-working young man who holds no animosity towards law enforcement, and this was an absolutely tragic accident.”
Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Sheila Kelliher told reporters Gutierrez had minor injuries from the incident. Five of the cadets were taken to local hospitals in critical condition, four suffered moderate injuries, and 16 sustained minor injuries according to the Sheriff’s Office.
The initial reports from the LA Sheriff’s office allegedly showed the crash wasn’t intentional and it appeared to have been “a horrific accident,” Sheriff Villanueva told a Wednesday press conference per CNN. Gutierrez was going the wrong way, blew a zero on a breathalyzer and passed a field sobriety test. There were no skid marks to be found on the scene either.
“It looked like an airplane wreck – so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injury,” Villanueva said. “It was pretty traumatic.”
Speaking to Newsmax Villanueva said his investigators, “went through an exhaustive interview process with everyone involved,” adding “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.”
Downtown LA Scanner posted an alleged video of the incident to Twitter Wednesday.
WARNING: The following content depicts graphic violence. Viewer Discretion is advised.
Security cam video of the Whittier crash. pic.twitter.com/pqsc88XRfs
— Downtown LA Scanner (@DowntownLAScan) November 17, 2022