Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Rialto Police Officers Won't Face Charges in Suspect's Shooting (Press Enterprise 032007)

Rialto police officers won't face charges in suspect's shooting

10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Press-Enterprise

A group of Rialto police officers who fired 39 rounds, killing an armed gang member, last year will not face criminal charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.

The four members of the Multiple Enforcement Team shot Manuel Espinoza, 20, of Rialto, on June 8 after following him from a Colton motel they had put under surveillance to find a runaway teen.

The officers' names were not released at the request of Rialto police officials, who told prosecutors reviewing the case that there is fear of potential gang retaliation for the shooting.

Espinoza, who at the time was a suspect in two 2006 gang-related homicides, ran from a friend's car after police stopped it on Wildrose Avenue, blocks from the motel, said Deputy District Attorney Vic Stull.

While running from officers, Espinoza pulled a revolver and fired one shot in their direction, Stull wrote in a report. That set off a flurry of shots from the officers in the area. Twenty-eight of the 39 rounds struck Espinoza, killing him within minutes, Stull wrote.

So many shots were fired because Espinoza appeared unfazed by the initial fire that struck him, Stull wrote.

One of the officers interviewed "thought this was 'crazy,' " Stull wrote, "because while it appeared bullets were striking Mr. Espinoza, he would not stay down."

He continued to point his gun directly at officers through most of the shooting, Stull wrote, before eventually falling to the ground.

Of seven witnesses cited in the report -- two of them were with Espinoza in the car before police gave chase -- one states seeing him pull something from his waist. The others said their view was blocked, and when shots were first heard, they were unsure whether they were coming from Espinoza or police.

Espinoza was previously identified as a gang member and a suspect in the Feb. 1, 2006, shooting death of 23-year-old Pablo Esparza inside a Eucalyptus Avenue mobile home park, said Rialto police Lt. Reinhard Burkholder.

He was also linked to the May 1 fatal shooting of Joseph Aragon, 21, outside a Riverside Avenue liquor store, Burkholder said.

Reach Paul LaRocco at 909-806-3064 or

BS Ranch Perspective:

Sounds like They had a long look at this case and they have come to an understanding that there will not be any chareges on the case. If it has taken them over a year to Observe the case, and go over the evidence time and again then it must be that there is no Evidence of a Crime! The Officers Therefore, are Cleared of All Wrong in this shooting.

Now, they just have to go through the rest of their life remembering the time that the suspect fell to their death, and they have to dream that over and over, so maybe it is over in the Press, but it is by far not over wiht the Officer's in their lives.

BS Ranch

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