The driver, aged 22, who slammed into a group of 25 recruits for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office this past week chose to deny the claims from police officials that investigators had already gathered more than enough evidence to prove that the incident was done as a deliberate act.
The suspect in the case, Nicholas Gutierrez, was taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer with a bond of $2 million for allegedly intentionally slamming his Honda CR-V into a group of 25 cadets roughly 20 miles to the southeast of downtown Los Angeles back on the 16th of November at roughly 6:30 a.m. while they took part in a training exercise with roughly 75 total recruits from the Sheriff’s Department and several local police agencies.
The horrible incident resulted in more than a dozen cadets being sent to the hospital and at least 5 of those being marked as in severe condition.
Alex Villanueva, the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, explained that they were forced to provisionally release Gutierrez due to the initial complaint not being enough to hold the suspect in custody for an extended duration.
While speaking during an interview on NBC, Gutierrez shot down the claims put forth by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who expressed that investigators had enough evidence to conclude that the crash was on purpose.
“I didn’t intentionally do it,” stated Gutierrez, making the claim that he had fallen asleep on his way to his job.
Gutierrez claimed that he had fallen asleep at the wheel and was awoken to the sound of the recruits slamming fists on his windows.
“I wish it never happened,” he stated. “I feel bad it happened.”
While taking part in the interview, Gutierrez could be seen with injuries on his face which were suffered due to the crash, which he claimed stemmed from being “dragged” out of his vehicle by the sheriff when he woke up because of the impact.
The police department declined to issue further statements.
The injured recruits were taking part in a 22-week-long program from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s S.T.A.R.S. Explorer Training Academy in South Whittier, California. When the crash took place, the cadets had been organized into four rows while a group of drill instructors and a pair of black-and-white radio cars escorted them.
As explained by Villanueva, about seven of the recruits remain in the hospital, and two of them are still marked as in critical condition with numerous leg fractures. He explained that the office’s largest concern was with one recruit who was currently on life support and is dealing with a serious bleed on the brain and swelling.
“They have a long road to recovery happen to them, and we’re just hoping and praying that they can pull through,” he explained to News Nation.
The sheriff explained that while the five still remain under observation, the other 20 have been released back to their families.
The attorney for Gutierrez put forth a statement on Friday claiming that Gutierrez comes from a family of law enforcement. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, his father is a retired corrections officer. His uncles work in law enforcement as well with the Los Angeles Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the Sheriff’s Department.
“Nicholas comes from a proud law enforcement family, and the injuries to these recruits is beyond heartbreaking,” expressed attorney Alexandra Kazarian. “The Gutierrez family appreciates the Sheriff’s Department taking the time to conduct a full and complete investigation. As many have asked, we want to emphasize that Nicholas was on his way to work and had no drugs or alcohol in his system at the time of this tragic accident.”
Kazarian stated that Gutierrez “harbors absolutely no animosity toward law enforcement,” tossing out any and all claims that her client had actually been a disgruntled academy recruit were entirely wrong.