Orange Policeman Cleared in Non-Fatal Shooting of Man Armed With $7.44
Jorge Medina was parked in a Lexus on North Highland Street on the evening of June 30, 2013 when Orange police officer Fernando Maldonado drove by during a routine patrol check. Because no parking is allowed in the alley, the cop turned around to check on the vehicle. By that point, Medina had already exited the car and was walking to open a garage door.
That's when a standoff began that ultimately ended with Medina being shot twice by Maldonado.
The Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) office released a report this week on the incident. According to its findings, officer Maldonado asked Medina to drive the Lexus out of the alley. He ignored the command, holding the opened garage door with his right hand instead. Medina's left hand dangled near his waistband and pant pocket.
Fearing Medina could pull a weapon at any moment, Maldonado drew his Taser. The cop ordered him to show his hands. Medina did for a quick moment, but put his hands down near his waistband again. Maldonado switched out the Taser for a gun and pointed it at Medina, who first paced back and forth and then crouched in a corner of the garage.
Officer Maldonado, fearing a shoot-out, fired two shots hitting Medina in the thigh and stomach. Back up arrived and helped the cop restrain and cuff a resisting Medina. A pat-down didn't find any weapons on him, just $7.44.
The OCDA report cites the witness testimony of John and Jane Doe. The couple walked down the alley on their way to Game Stop. They saw Medina fail to comply with police orders. The two say he reached for his pockets in corroborating Maldonado's account.
Medina gave his own version of what happened to OCDA investigators. He said Maldonado asked him for his I.D. and that's why he began digging around his pant pockets. The man also claims he retreated into the garage out of fear.
After the shooting, Medina tested positive for meth. A search warrant netted a meth pipe in the garage belonging to him. A judge sentenced him to three months probation for the drug charges and resisting arrest.
The OCDA report mentions that Maldonado encountered Medina in a high drug and gang crime area of Orange. "It is not unreasonable or unjustified for Officer Maldonado to have believed at the time that Medina was reaching for a weapon," it reads. Prosecutors declined to press charges on the basis of that conclusion.
Read the investigation letter in its entirety online.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @gsanroman2