Two Santa Ana police officers were released by Orange County prosecutors after an investigation into a shootout that killed a Fountain Valley gunman in January.
Investigators found that officers Gavin Roelofs and Josh Espadas are not criminal after reviewing the January 20 incident that resulted in the death of Miguel Segura Mercado, 31, during a fight with police.
Police arrived at an apartment on La Hacienda Avenue to arrest Mercado as a suspect in an investigation into lascivious and lascivious acts with a minor.
Prosecutors published a letter containing the results of the investigation into the shooting in which the officer was involved. The report states that Roelofs and Espadas did not make any voluntary statements about the incident.
The letter states that there was a fight after Mercado tried to escape.
Roelofs and Espadas arrived at the apartment and spoke to Mercado's parents, who, according to the report, said that both they and Mercado were aware of allegations of inappropriate acts by other family members towards children.
Officials asked Mercado to come outside and speak to them, who, according to the letter, had initially agreed to do so before going out onto a backyard patio and attempting to climb the fence.
Roelofs and Espadas then seized Mercado, and a third officer, Sgt. Dave Lima, worked together to stop Mercado from escaping. The letter adds that Lima saw a semi-automatic pistol in Mercados right hand pointed at its midsection under his ballistic vest.
Lima reportedly told investigators that he could not fire his weapon without taking the risk of shooting the other officers. A statement from Lima in the letter said, "I thought I was dead … this guy is going to shoot me right where I have no protection."
When Lima saw the gun, he allegedly said he had yelled, "Gun, gun!" and then seven shots were fired in rapid succession.
The letter says that after the incident, Mercado's mother ran past Roelofs and Espadas to her son's side and grabbed the gun. She did not follow instructions to drop the gun and return to the apartment.
The letter subsequently stated that Roelofs had fired his taser at Mercado’s mother and hit her in the upper body and leg after repeatedly failing to follow the instructions to drop the weapon.
Mercado was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The letter states that the autopsy identified the cause of death as "multiple gunshot wounds to the upper body".
According to the letter, prosecutors concluded that Roelofs and Espadas were legally entitled to believe that Mercado posed a threat to Lima, to themselves and to the public.
Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.