The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office released troubling details from a 2022 incident where a man used children as human shields and pointed a gun at their mother.
An investigation report from the Redwood City Police Department justifies the officers’ use of lethal force in the incident.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, five police officers were involved in fatally shooting Abran Gutierrez during the confrontation on El Camino Real.
District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe concluded that “there is no legal basis for filing criminal charges against any of the five Redwood City Police Officers involved in the death of Mr. Gutierrez” and the officers’ actions were “legally justifiable self-defense and defense of others.”
The five officers were identified as RCPD officers Luke Shoats, William Wolfe, Nicholas Muniz, Victor Figueroa, and Jose Montoya.
The domestic violence happened on November 15, 2022, at a busy El Camino Real intersection.
Abran Gutierrez, 36, from San Carlos got into an argument with his 32-year-old pregnant girlfriend inside their car. The woman’s three young children were also inside the vehicle.
The woman was “in a dating relationship with Mr. Gutierrez for the past three years, they have one child in common, and she is pregnant with another,” the report states.
The woman told investigators that Gutierrez became increasingly paranoid and aggressive during the course of their relationship.
According to the report, Officer Shoats was the first officer to arrive at the scene and saw Guiterrez pacing nearby. The woman told Shoats that an argument started in the car, escalated, and caused her to call 911. Then Gutierrez stole his girlfriend’s phone and bit her arm.
Gutierrez had used drugs that morning and was “seeing and hearing things,” the report states.
Officer Shoats noticed that Gutierrez was “agitated,” “amped up,” and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. “At this moment, Mr. Gutierrez then turned away, stepped back, reached into his waist area under his clothing and pulled out a silver handgun,” the report states.
Officer Shoats yelled into his police radio, informing others of the appearance of the gun, and grabbed a 10-year-old girl and told her to run.
By this time, Gutierrez was inside a gold Prius holding the woman and the other two children hostage at gunpoint.
“Officer Shoats heard Mr. Gutierrez tell him, ‘Come over here and I’ll f**king smoke her.’ He could also hear Mr. Gutierrez yelling at (the woman) to ‘Give me the keys.’ Gutierrez was holding the children in such a way as the create a shield to protect himself,” investigators wrote in the report.
Backup officers arrived on the scene and waited for a chance to shoot Gutierrez without hitting the woman and children.
Officer Wolfe told Officer Shoats, “He believed that Mr. Gutierrez was going to execute one or more of the victims in the Prius if he (Officer Wolfe) froze or did not do something.”
Officer Muniz said he saw Gutierrez hold the woman by her hair and shove her to the front to conceal himself. He also used one of the children as a human shield.
Officer Wolfe saw an opening when the victim managed to pull away from Gutierrez for a fraction of a second and fired a shot through the windshield, striking the suspect.
The injured Gutierrez crawled out of the Prius and more officers fired at him until he was motionless. He was declared deceased shortly after.
Investigators said police recovered Gutierrez’s loaded pistol under the Prius.
Autopsy reveals that police fatally shot Gutierrez in the head, neck, arm, and torso.
Toxicology testing detected methamphetamine and THC in his blood, the report states.
According to the report, Gutierrez suffered from mental health issues leading up to the incident. Gutierrez’s son told deputies that his father was “going crazy” and the suspect’s parents also told investigators that Gutierrez was hearing voices, experienced paranoia, and talked to non-existent people.