A Redding police officer was correct in shooting and killing a woman who ran over another officer with her car in the Discovery Village parking lot on Dec. 2, 2020, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett announced Friday. .
Bridgett said her district attorney’s office conducted an independent review of the shooting involving an officer and concluded that the fatal shooting of Dolores Hernandez of Marysville was legal.
Redding Police Corporal. Garrett Maxwell, who shot Hernandez through his car window, and officer Matthew Bruce drove to the parking lot outside the busy MOD Pizza on Dana Drive around 6.30pm in December after receiving a report about a woman who was causing trouble inside the restaurant. , the prosecutor’s office said.
Here is the account described in Bridgett’s report:
How the incident started
The two officers arrived in separate police cars, and a security guard named Hernandez as the person causing the disturbance.
Hernandez was sitting in her Toyota Camry playing loud music when Bruce approached her. The officer caught the woman’s attention and she rolled down her window about 2 inches.
Bruce asked Hernandez what was going on and she said the officer was not allowed to speak to her. She told Bruce that he and all of the police were “murderers” and that they would “shall be brought to justice in the name of Jesus Christ.”
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The woman refused to provide her driver’s license and used an expletive.
The woman rolled up the window, put her car in reverse, and pulled out of the parking spot as the two officers walked away toward the curb.
“The plan was to let Hernandez go, as his departure would have ended the conflict caused by his inconvenience on the spot,” the report said.
Instead, the woman suddenly walked towards the two officers and came within inches of hitting Bruce.
“His actions posed an imminent threat to officers and numerous civilians in the area of the busy mall,” the report said.
After that, she shouted a curse and made an obscene gesture.
“Officer Bruce now believed he should detain Hernandez because it would have been dangerous to allow her to continue driving. He also believed she had committed a crime by assaulting him with a vehicle,” the report said.
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The officer attempted to smash the driver’s window with a baton so he could get Hernandez out, but the woman again put the car in reverse. This time the car rolled over Bruce’s leg and the left front wheel pinned him to the ground with the car on his lap.
As Bruce tried to smash the window with his truncheon, Maxwell used a knife to try to puncture the left rear tire and stop the vehicle.
Maxwell was unsuccessful and saw his colleague pinned under the car. Given the way Hernandez was acting, Maxwell didn’t think knocking the officer down was an accident.
In a Record Searchlight article at the time, witnesses said the woman used her car as a battering ram.
“It appeared to Maxwell that Hernandez was acting intentionally to kill Officer Bruce,” the prosecutor’s report said.
Maxwell had pulled his gun from its holster, believing the woman would run over Bruce again and kill him.
The report says Hernandez’s car window was rolled up so Maxwell was unable to use less lethal force such as a baton, stun gun or pepper spray. “His only option was to use lethal force,” according to the report.
Bruce told Maxwell to “shoot him,” although Maxwell had already “independently decided lethal force was necessary,” the report said.
“Corporal Maxwell engaged Hernandez, shooting him through the driver’s door window,” according to the report.
Maxwell fired seven rounds from his semi-automatic .40 caliber handgun, striking and killing Hernandez.
His car rolled over to a parked car, freeing Bruce. Hernandez was pronounced dead at the scene and an ambulance took Bruce to hospital.
An autopsy determined Hernandez’s cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds.
The investigation included officers’ statements to detectives and witness interviews. One person provided cellphone video.
Investigators learned that Hernandez had come to Redding that day from Marysville, although she had no known connection to Redding or Shasta County.
Hernandez had no criminal history. Family members told detectives that Hernandez “was often confrontational and belligerent with law enforcement,” according to the report.
“For the reasons given … we conclude that the shooting was lawful,” the report said.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office took the lead in the investigation with assistance from the district attorney’s office, the Redding Police Department and the California Highway Patrol.
Mike Chapman is an award-winning journalist and photographer for Record Searchlight in Redding, California. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Washington. Support local journalism by subscribing today.