[UPDATED with Jason Bitz was Unarmed, May Have Not Been Stealing Car:] Santa Ana Off-Duty Cop Shoots and Kills a Guy

Categories: Crime-iny
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UPDATE, NOV. 3, 3:09 A.M.: Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators say Jason Richard Bitz was not armed when a Santa Ana police officer fired four times and killed the Long Beach 23-year-old in Lakewood Monday morning. The unidentified officer, who has been placed on administrative leave, had said Bitz reached into his waistband before he was shot. Meanwhile, a family member claims Bitz was not breaking into a car but had keys and permission to enter the vehicle the officer apparently thought was about to be stolen from his neighborhood.

The Los Angeles Times has the latest developments, which include the unidentified Bitz family member saying the dead man was on parole, which might explain why he ran when first confronted by the off-duty cop.

UPDATE, NOV. 3, 11:29 A.M.: The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office has identified a man shot to death in Lakewood by an off-duty Santa Ana police officer as 23-year-old Jason Bitz of Long Beach.

The unidentified officer has been placed on administrative leave, as is routine in officer-involved shootings. He is said to have fired his weapon after Bitz, who was being chased, reached into his waistband. But Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators probing the shooting have not revealed whether a gun was found on the dead man.


ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 31, 1:07 P.M.: The off-duty officer from the Santa Ana Police Department has not been identified, but the circumstances that led him to shoot and kill a man in Lakewood this morning have been released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

The cop heard noises outside his Longworth Avenue home, went outdoors to find two males breaking into a vehicle across the street, identified himself as a police officer and gave chase in his car as they darted off on foot, according to deputies.

At some point around 6:30 a.m., one man being pursued got into the officer's car, how and why remains unclear. According to the sheriff's statement, the would-be thief reached for his waistband, at which point the cop fired four times at him. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

John Tucker, who retired from the Santa Ana Police Department 10 years ago, lived in the same neighborhood residents described as quiet and safe, save for a few burglaries that prompted Tucker to install a video surveillance camera on his property.

Sheriff's investigators are now reviewing tape from the camera of Tucker, who was awakened by the gunfire, as part of the shooting probe, the Los Angeles Times reports.
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7 comments
Duncan H.
Duncan H.

I wonder if the off duty officer is Brandon Sontag. He shot an unarmed woman to death in 2007 (The City Settled for $2 million) and in the same year he ran a guy over with his patrol car and tried to steal the video when he found out he was being taped (City settled for $100,000). By the way, Ofc Sontag is still employed by Santa Ana.Last year Andres Ramirez was shot in the back of the head last year by a Santa Ana cop. I can't help but wonder if Sontag also did that too.

Mikloslb
Mikloslb

That cop is a complete lying piece of shit murderer.

Guest
Guest

perfect example of police brrutality  very sad and it is wat it is this youngmans life was taken by an idiot behind a badge he deserves justice although it wont him back to live,may he be in a better place.

kushibo
kushibo

I am really perplexed by the lack of follow-up to this story at the LAT, the OCR, the LB Press-Telegram, and even the OC Weekly!

Seriously, this story stinks to high Heaven and I want some answers. This really does sound like, at best, a way overzealous cop chased and then gunned down an innocent man he mistook for stealing a car, or, at worst, a cop who realized he'd messed up killed a witness. There seems to be some lying going on (the waistband thing, for example). 

And can we get verification that Jason Bitz really was changing a tire and not trying to steal the car? (Not that stealing a car deserves to get him shot).

Anthony Lee Collins
Anthony Lee Collins

  I would just like to also say "Police" officer of Santa Ana, be true to your game. Your story sounds REALLY lame. You go outside and make it known that you're a officer of law. Two suspects ran away from you proclaiming you are who you are then mystersly 1 of the two gets into your car willingly w/out your help. Please help me to understand how a so called porollaly would voluntary jump in your ride. My beleaf is 'Homaside' is trying to be covered up! The pieces of the puzzle just don't seam to fit!!!!!!!!!! I wish someone out-there can help me to understand how a young man running away from you(police-officer) would just jump into your car without a clue. I'm really confuzed:-(.

Anthony Lee Collins
Anthony Lee Collins

 What I don't understand is why was Bitz put in police car w/out being searched if (so called) officer claims he was a burgler? Doesn't make much sense that a young man has lost his life. I see it as a so called police officer 'NOT' following protocal!!

Gene Fay
Gene Fay

to Kushibo I can tell you as a friend of the deceased that from all accounts possible he was simply changing a tire he was not stealing that car and the off duty police officer should have followed proper protocal. Which i beleive is taught in basic police 101 he should have waited and let the local and proper authorities the LA county sherrifs in lakewood respond to this alleged car burglary and we probably wouldnt have a dead 23 year old shot and killed for no justifiable reason other then one rouge cop thinking he is the judge jury and executioner. I dont know how anybody can justify this MURDER 

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