OC DA Clears Orange Police in Shooting of Unarmed Woman
On June 22, 2012, Olivia Reil went to Danny K's Sports Bar in Orange with her boyfriend Robert to celebrate a friend's birthday. Everything went well enough that summer night until Reil and her man got into a lover's quarrel as they sat in his truck. The two had been going out for a year, but she hadn't yet heard those three magic words: "I love you."
Robert drove Reil to a friend's place after leaving Danny K's, but she didn't get down with him. When Robert came back out, he found that she took off with his truck.
Later on that night, according to an investigation by the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA), Reil essentially called the police on herself saying a woman was armed and seated inside a truck.
Orange PD officers Brian Chambers, Trent Hardeman and Charles Lange responded to the scene of West Sycamore and Spruce Avenue finding Reil in the truck. She suddenly exited and held a black object in a "pistol position." The police took cover behind their patrol cars and issued commands that were ignored.
In a statement given by Officer Lange, he observed a shine off the object and, thinking Reil wanted to commit suicide-by-cop, yelled "it's a cellphone!" But by that time it was too late as Officer Chambers and Hardeman both opened fire, shooting four times each. Hardeman told OCDA investigators that he saw Reil begin to raise her arms and, believing her to be armed, feared for Chamber's life. Officer Chamber's take on events? He didn't even bother providing a statement.
Reil was struck in the left thigh, leg and abdomen as she fell to the ground. A cell phone was retrieved near her. Amazingly, she survived her wounds. In a later interview at UCI Medical Center, where Reil underwent treatment for her injuries, she said she didn't recall dialing 911 that night and when officers arrived, Reil tried telling them she didn't have a gun.
Citing Reil's own cell phone call logs and prior criminal history, the OCDA, in an all too familiar refrain, ruled the shooting justified. "The evidence does not support a finding of criminal culpability on the part of Officers Chambers or Hardeman," the report concludes.
The investigation letter can be read in its entirety online.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz