Surprise, Surprise, Part 2: OC DA Rules Another Anaheim Police Shooting Death Justified

Martin Hernandez.png
Martin Hernandez
The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) has concluded there is to be no "criminal culpability" in the fatal officer-involved shooting of 21-year-old Martin Angel Hernandez on March 6, 2012 in Anaheim, and that "there is substantial evidence" that the officer involved "acted reasonably under the circumstances when he shot and killed Martin Hernandez."

A letter dated Monday and addressed to Anaheim Police Chief John Welter outlined the findings of the nine-page report released ten months after the killing occurred.

The controversial shooting set off a wave of protests in the Wakefield neighborhood near the Anaheim GardenWalk where it occurred, and was a precursor to the simmering unrest in the city that boiled over in July.

As the investigation recounts, officers responded to a 911 call on the night of March 6, claiming that five or six males--two armed--were standing outside a white car shouting their gang affiliations in the alleyway of an apartment complex off of East Wakefield Street.

Anaheim police officers Dan Hurtado, Ray Drabek and Mike Brannigan responded, and approached the alleyway on foot. Hurtado positioned himself at the west end armed with a Bushmaster AR 15 semi-automatic rifle; Drabek and Brannigan attempted to seal off the east end of the alley. As was mentioned before by Chief Welter at a tension-filled meeting held at the Ponderosa Elementary School Library weeks after the shooting, the police version holds that a male riding a bike and another, Hernandez, running beside him carrying a shotgun, were headed towards the west end.

As the bicyclist fled, Officer Hurtado left his cover, pointed his rifle and yelled a police command out for Hernandez to stop. The report says that Hernandez stopped and changed directions within 10 yards of the armed officer--but that's not when the shooting occurred. Strange...

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Wakefield Alley where the officer-involved shooting occurred

Hurtado told OCDA investigators that Hernandez turned towards a blue Dumpster positioned near a wall topped with barbed wire fencing. The officer says that he initially thought that Hernandez was going to jump over the wall and flee into an adjacent mobile home park. Hurtado said he feared for his life when he claimed that Hernandez moved a shotgun so that it eventually pointed his way, but the report doesn't specify if Hernandez did this on purpose, or accidentally. Nevertheless, Hurtado fired three rifle shots; one struck Hernandez in the head. The shotgun was said to have been laying four to five feet to the side of Hernandez's body.

OCDA investigators interviewed nearly sixty witnesses by their own account, but the testimony of only two were included in the final report. A woman identified as Witness #1 was in the alley at the time of the confrontation. She noted that she caught a glimpse of the two men running by but didn't see anything in their hands. Aside from that, she corroborated that Hurtado issued commands to Hernandez.

The other interesting part of the report involves cameras. At the March meeting, angry residents demanded to know where they were and what they showed. "As far as the cameras go, the District Attorney, most likely, has those," Welter said at the time. "I'll be very interested to know what the cameras revealed." But Caroline Toneygay, the mother of Martin Hernandez, told the Weekly last July that an OCDA investigator gave her the run around saying there were no videos nor any surveillance footage of the shooting.

The final report says nothing of any cameras, opting instead to mention that a resident identified as Witness #2 captured cellphone footage in the aftermath purportedly showing Hernandez lying down, bleeding to death, with a shotgun a few feet away.

The justification is the second is as many months for Anaheim police after Officer Nick Bennallack, named in a $50 million civil rights lawsuit in the officer-involved killing of Manuel Diaz, was cleared in late December of any criminal culpability in the shooting death of Bernie Villegas.

A gathering at the Wakefield alley is already set to take place to mark the first anniversary of his death in March. You can read the DA's report in its entirety by clicking on the appropriate links on the "Investigative Letters" page of the DA's website. 

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18 comments
royx0051
royx0051

oh wow now we have mass murrdering cops! thats to bad --did I read that right he has shot 2 other lainodecent---males!?

Ronaldo60
Ronaldo60

On Anaheim's Latino-gang problem:  "What you have is all these young men who graduated from high school, and there are no job opportunities, and they're drawn into the criminal life"-Gustavo Arellano, O.C. Weekly Resident Moron (from L.A. Times)

chunt6
chunt6

u have to deliberately point a gun at someone on purpose before they are allowed to protect themselves?

mophisto.waltz
mophisto.waltz

What a shocker.... the cop did his job and gang banger sympathizers are upset....IF you dont want to die a gang bangers death then it would be wise to stay away from gangs.....

FFO1939
FFO1939

God Bless America!! Justice has been served! The community is now protected. I salute to you, Anaheim Police Department.

grvz5247
grvz5247

This is sick a man runs while a cop shoots him from behind in cold blood.

Pico Aspe
Pico Aspe

police is the biggest threat in the OC

Dweezle
Dweezle

Hmmm, 60 people interviewed, only 2 witness statements provided, One stating she saw no gun one showing a post shooting cell phone photo of a shotgun 10 feet from the victim? questionable... Time for a new DA perhaps...  Personally, I will vote for any Democrat to replace the Gestapo Republican Yes Men.

marla8a96
marla8a96

BULLSHIT! DAN HURTADO KILLED AN INNOCENT MAN AND JUSTICE WILL STILL BE SERVED ;-)

nvnc2012
nvnc2012

Every encounter you have with REVENUE PRODUCERS of the
"State"...Document, Document, Document! So when you make it to "City
Court", to address the "City Judge" to defend yourself against the "City
Cop" that forced you there to begin with, you can have a"Fair
Trial"...Wait for it! www.Nvnc.org

Michael Moon
Michael Moon

I've only been reading these statements issued by the DA's office for the past year. I've never found the officer at fault in any of the findings. The laws probability kind of dictate that to be impossible..

2aggie
2aggie

police IS the biggest threat? Wow. I think illiterate people are the biggest threat to society.

StopBangers
StopBangers

@marla8a96 Justice was served!  Hey I heard the Tripps are Joto's!!  THANK YOU Officer Hurtado for riding us of 1 piece of shit!!  So many more to go!

StopBangers
StopBangers

Don't like it - go back to Mexico!  Lots of walls to tag there!!

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