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February 25, 2017 Officer Involved Incident Involving Lorenzo Cruz

March 03, 2017

R. Scott Owens

District Attorney

PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
916 543-8000 

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release 
March 3rd, 2017

Contact: Jeff Wilson,  Assistant District Attorney
916 543-8000

FEBRUARY 25, 2017 OFFICER INVOLVED INCIDENT INVOLVING LORENZO CRUZ

Our office has completed its review of the February 25th, 2017 incident involving Lorenzo Cruz. Our review was done at your request and based on the protocol established by the Placer County Law Enforcement Agencies. I have reviewed the statements made by the officers in the case, statements made by eyewitnesses, and audio and video recordings related to the incident.

From our review of the above it appears officers first made contact with Mr. Cruz when they attempted to effectuate a traffic stop on him for expired registration. Cruz fled in his vehicle at a high rate of speed. Rather than initiate a high speed pursuit, officers determined it would cause too much risk to the motorists and citizens in the area and opted not to pursue Cruz. They were, however, able to obtain a description of the vehicle and the vehicles license plate.

Rocklin Police later received a 911 call from a citizen reporting that the same defendant was engaged in bizarre behavior, including ramming his vehicle into a gate in a residential neighborhood. Witnesses indicated that they were confronted by the suspect in an angry and aggressive manner. Witnesses also indicated that they believed he was in possession of a firearm. This information was related to the officers responding to the 911 call. According to one witness, Cruz attempted to enter his home through a sliding glass door. When that failed, Cruz broke a glass laundry room door and entered the home. After fleeing the location the defendant entered a neighbor’s vehicle and again attempted to flee.

It was at this point that three officers from Rocklin Police Department located and confronted the suspect and gave several commands to surrender. The defendant failed to comply with those commands. Two officers were able to see what they believed to be a firearm. Both officers yelled “gun”, to notify a third officer of the danger. They ordered him to drop the weapon. Cruz then moved and turned toward the officer. One of the officers was able to see a weapon pointed directly at another officer. Officers, fearing for their immediate safety and the safety of citizens in the area, discharged their weapons killing the suspect. Additional officers arrived on the scene. When searching the area of the defendant officers located what appeared to be a firearm. Upon closer examination the weapon was a replica firearm that had been painted silver.

The law relevant to this incident is found in Penal Code sections 196-198 and 692-694. These sections authorize public officers and any other person to use deadly force in self-defense and/or in defense of others, when the use of such deadly force is both subjectively and objectively reasonable. Homicide (or attempted) is justifiable as to officers when the homicide is necessarily committed in overcoming actual resistance to the execution of some legal process, or in the discharge of any other legal duty. Penal Code section 196(2).

It is not clear from the evidence why Cruz was in Rocklin or what motivated his conduct. It is clear, however, that he had engaged in bizarre behavior that was placing the citizens of Rocklin community at risk. It is equally clear that the officers that located him and attempted to arrest the defendant were in reasonable fear for their life at the time they discharged their weapons at the defendant. Had the officers failed to take the action that they did they would have not only placed themselves in danger, but also would have placed the citizens of the community in danger. In sum, the actions of Mr. Cruz left the officers with no choice, but to discharge their weapons in self-defense and in defense of the citizens and the community they serve.

Based on the above there is no evidence of any criminal conduct on the part of the involved officers or any evidence of inappropriate conduct that would warrant any action by this office.

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