Response from Police Chief Raul Quezada regarding lawsuit related to the 2012 officer-involved shooting of Martin Angel Hernandez

Yesterday, I read inaccurate and inflammatory comments attributed to an attorney representing the mother of Martin Angel Hernandez, a gang member who was shot in 2012 after pointing a shotgun at an Anaheim Police officer. The attorney not only misrepresented the facts of the incident, which were thoroughly investigated by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, he also attempted to sully the reputation of our gang unit.

First, I would like to share the District Attorney’s Office’s findings:

“Facts:”
On March 6, 2012, at approximately 9:48 p.m., APD Dispatch received a 911 call reporting five to six males standing outside a white car in the alley of an apartment complex on East Wakefield Street in the City of Anaheim. The caller indicated that he observed one of the males put a handgun behind the driver’s seat of the white car and a second male place a handgun in his waistband…

“Legal Analysis:”
While discharging his duty as a police officer and in response to a citizen’s call for police assistance, Officer (Dan) Hurtado entered an alley at night with a known gang presence realizing that he would likely encounter armed gang members. Officer Hurtado then observed Hernandez, a well-documented member of a criminal street gang, armed with a shotgun, which was ultimately pointed at the officer. At the time the shotgun was pointed at the officer, the officer was in an open alley with no cover and believed, reasonably based on all the available evidence, that he was about to be shot. In addition, Officer Hurtado knew that an innocent civilian was standing in the immediate vicinity and in harm’s way. In order to neutralize the perceived threat, the officer fired his department-issued rifle. As discussed below and based on well-established law and all the known facts, it would be unreasonable and unfair to conclude that Officer Hurtado did not have justification to use his weapon in self-defense.”

I encourage anybody with questions about the case to read the DA’s nine-page investigative report: http://www.orangecountyda.com/docs/martin_hernandez_ois_letter.pdf

Officer Hurtado displayed professionalism and courage in protecting an innocent bystander that evening. This case illustrates the danger our officers face and the courage that they display every day in fulfilling their sworn mission to protect and serve the community.

As Anaheim’s new police chief, my top priority continues to be engaging all segments of the community. Since the unrest that occurred in the summer of 2012, we have resumed foot patrols, have added officers to our Community Policing Teams, started a Neighborhood Advisory Council and require our officers to record all police activity.

These initiatives and others such as our Junior Cadets and other Cops 4 Kids programs are designed to build strong and trusting relationships with the community we are sworn to protect.

Our mission remains protecting the community, maintaining order and preventing crime.

Although gang crime is down significantly over the past year, and has been trending down over the past decade, the reality remains that we have gang crime issues in Anaheim. The Gang Unit has played a major role in making neighborhoods throughout the City safer for residents, business owners, children and visitors. Enforcement and investigations are not the only roles of this successful unit, however. Youth Services and Safe Schools officers work in concert with them; focusing on prevention, intervention and diversion to invest in the next generation to provide opportunities and alternatives to the gang lifestyle.

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