Whittier crash: Driver Nicholas Gutierrez released after arrest for hitting Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office recruits

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Whittier crash: Driver Nicholas Gutierrez released after arrest for hitting Los Angeles Sheriff's Office recruits
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WHITTIER, Calif. — A 22-year-old Diamond Bar man who authorities say intentionally rammed into a group of law enforcement recruits was released Thursday night, prison records show.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the suspect was only released until investigators can develop more evidence and present a stronger case to prosecutors.

Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of peace officers for Wednesday’s crash that injured 25 recruits, but jail records show he was released at 9:49 p.m. due to insufficient evidence that a crime has been committed.

“Due to the extreme complexity of the investigation, which includes ongoing interviews, a review of CCTV and additional evidence to analyze, homicide investigators have released Mr. Gutierrez from Department of Justice custody. sheriff,” a press release from authorities said.

RELATED: Contraflow Driver Hits Jogging Law Enforcement Recruits in Whittier

Investigators are beginning the work of issuing search warrants on all of Gutierrez’s social and electronic media to see if he has ever expressed “anti-police” views.

“I have no doubt that a thorough investigation will confirm that Nicholas is a hard-working young man who has no animosity towards law enforcement, and it was an absolutely tragic accident,” Alexandra said. Kazarian, Gutierrez’s attorney, in a statement to Eyewitness. New.

The case was due to be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office on Friday, but Villanueva told a cable news network that the suspect will be “tentatively” released as investigators work to build a stronger case. .

“We certainly have serious concerns about his ability to prosecute, so we will release him on bail until we can have the case ironclad … and submit it to the prosecutor for review,” Villanueva said in an interview. on NewsNation. , referring to DA George Gascón.

Meanwhile, the LA County Attorney’s Office released a statement saying, “We have been in contact with LASD and CHP since the incident. They informed our office late yesterday that they would not be presenting a case for the moment and that they would be releasing the suspect.We cannot comment on the evidence in this case as it is an ongoing investigation.

The sheriff said they are still awaiting toxicology results, among other things.

A Sheriff’s Department investigator told our sister station KABC-TV in Los Angeles on Thursday that they believe the suspect intentionally rammed into the recruits.

Video shows SUV attacking recruits

Villanueva previously said the crash was an accident, however, authorities say this was based on preliminary information and other evidence gathered leads them to believe the suspect intentionally rammed into the group.

The incident took place early Wednesday morning in the South Whittier area near Mills Avenue and Trumball Street. Villanueva said a class of around 75 recruits were on the run as part of a training exercise when the driver veered onto the wrong side of the road and rammed into the group.

The collision left all 25 recruits with injuries ranging from head trauma to loss of limb.

Villanueva said seven of them remained in hospital, including two in critical condition on Thursday. One of the seriously injured was still on life support with severe “cerebral hemorrhage and/or swelling and that is our biggest concern here”.

Some recruits said they heard the vehicle accelerate and it was going about 30 to 40 miles per hour before crashing into a pole, Villanueva said Wednesday.

Villanueva said the driver took a field sobriety test shortly after the accident and “blew a 0.0”.

The scene after the crash was chaotic and authorities said it looked like plane wreckage. Deputies got help from a nearby county fire station and immediately transported some of the most seriously injured directly to hospitals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.

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