The suspect arrested on Wednesday and accused of deliberately driving his car into a group of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s recruits has been set free, sparking outrage and disgust on social media.
As BizPac Review reported, Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, allegedly drove the wrong way down the road and rammed his Honda CRV into a group of roughly 75 jogging recruits on a training run near Whittier, Cal. Twenty-five cadets were injured, five of them, critically.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) November 17, 2022
At the time, L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva called the gruesome scene a “horrific incident,” a tragedy, and a “deliberate act.”
**WARNING: Video contains graphic footage**
So, it came as a shock to not just Los Angelenos but to the nation, to learn that Gutierrez was set free under a California state law that allows law enforcement to release arrestees pre-arraignment if they determine there are insufficient grounds to make a criminal complaint.
According to the Los Angeles Times, jail records now show that Gutierrez’s arrest was a “detention,” and prosecutors have not been given the case to review.
The L.A. County district attorney’s office issued a statement after speaking with both the Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol, which, alongside the sheriff’s homicide unit, is heading up the investigation.
“They advised our office late [Thursday] that they would not be presenting a case at this time and that they would be releasing the suspect,” said Tiffiny Blacknell, a spokesperson for the DA’s office.
According to legal experts, some of whom specialize in criminal defense, criminal charges will eventually be filed, providing enough evidence to prove Gutierrez is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is collected.
Lisa Zhao Liu, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, acknowledged the release seems shocking, but she says that can change.
“Maybe in the eyes of the public, it seems like, ‘Oh, my God; this person got out,'” she explained. “It’s most likely the fact that the district attorney’s office has not been presented with sufficient evidence by the arresting agency to prove specific charges at the moment, but this can change as new evidence is presented.”
While people are railing against the release online, it is important to remember that, under most circumstances, prosecutors have only 48 hours to arraign a person in custody, due to the Constitutional right to a fair and speedy arrangement and trial, meaning charges would have had to be brought against Gutierrez, who was arrested on Wednesday, by Friday.
In a case involving time-consuming forensic evidence, explained California defense lawyer Louis Shapiro, arraigning him that quickly is unrealistic.
“Forensic evidence and technical data from the car takes time to gather and analyze and have an expert write a report,” he said. “This isn’t like he shot a gun toward someone. It is more complex, and the car data is vital even if you think you know the motive.”
Still, citizens hungry for justice are not satisfied with the explanation.
“[Gutierrez] has been charged with attempted murder and released before the blood is dry,” stated one Twitter user. “J6 people are still in jail. This country is insane.”
“We can’t keep living like this,” the user lamented.
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