Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco Wednesday released portions of video captured by deputies at the time a 28-year-old suspected auto thief was fatally shot while allegedly trying to elude capture following a pursuit that ended east of Aguanga.
“This is a critical incident,” Bianco said in an introduction to a nine-minute narrative concerning what happened, posted on the sheriff’s Facebook page. “Whenever we have a deputy-involved shooting, multiple investigations are automatically launched. We take use of force seriously, and we make every effort to de-escalate these situations whenever possible.”
Pico Robles of Aguanga was killed in the confrontation with deputies on Tule Peak Road, near Eastridge Trail, on the morning of April 1.
According to the sheriff’s documentary-style video compilation, Robles and another, as-yet unidentified man allegedly stole a pickup truck with a trailer attached in Temecula and ended up in a residential area near Via Puerta and La Serena Way.
A sheriff’s community services officer, who is not sworn but is tasked with patrol duties, spotted the pickup and alerted dispatchers, who directed deputes to the location.
The video, partly relying on radio calls from the pursuing deputies to fill in details, depicts the pickup first going south, along Margarita Road, then turning east on Temecula Parkway, where the driver — Robles — allegedly runs at least three red lights with deputies on his tail.
At speeds ranging from 50 to 70 mph, the suspect continues east on Highway 79, leaving Temecula and heading past the Vail Lake Resort, allegedly steering into opposing traffic lanes several times, according to the video.
The pickup goes east of Aguanga onto Tule Valley Road, then turns onto Tule Peak Road, which is all dirt, but on the day of the chase was pitted and muddy, according to the video.
Robles is seen stopping in the road, apparently unable to progress because of the conditions. At that point, two deputies, a female identified as Deputy Zabrowski, and a male, identified as Deputy Hansen, exit their patrol units as another deputy pulls up behind.
“Driver, turn off the car and show us your hands,” Zabrowski shouts, and the pickup backs up toward her patrol vehicle but stops short of hitting it.
Zabrowski fires two shots in the direction of the pickup cab, and Hansen fires a single shot, as Robles and his accomplice bail out and run south, according to the video, which was gleaned from the body-worn camera on Zabrowski’s shirt. Hansen did not have a camera. The backup deputy who arrived just as the shots were unleashed was wearing a camera but was not close enough to capture any of the gunfire, which occurred about 7:30 a.m.
The video is cut for continuity and time, and in a brief segment during which the deputies start toward the woods to look for the suspects, Zabrowski states, “I thought they were going to ram me with the trailer.”
Robles’ body was found two days later, roughly 500 feet southeast of where he was shot. The other man’s whereabouts remain unknown.
“This incident will be ultimately reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office,” Bianco said. “Additionally, our department will internally review and evaluate the actions of the deputies to ensure that they acted within policy and training standards.”
Sheriff’s officials said Zabrowski and Hansen were placed on paid administrative leave immediately after the deputy-involved shooting, but their current duty status could not be confirmed.
The video can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/RCSD.Official/videos/288159655550647/.
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