Orange County prosecutors have cleared a Santa Ana police officer who shot a knife-wielding woman in a park last year.
In a report dated June 9, and made public Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Erin Rowe said Officer Julio Gallardo was “overwhelmingly justified” in shooting Alma Alicia Martinez, who was critically wounded but survived.
Last month, Martinez, 28, accepted a plea deal from an Orange County Superior Court judge May 16 that included a 120-day jail sentence and three years of formal probation. She had credit for more than that amount of time behind bars, so she was freed and ordered to complete a Mental Health Court Program.
Prosecutors objected to the plea deal, Rowe said in her report.
On May 24, 2016, police began receiving calls about Martinez about 7:35 p.m. Witnesses reported seeing her riding a bicycle waving a knife in the area of First Street and Harbor Boulevard, Rowe said.
Martinez went to the El Rancherito Market at 4410 W. Fifth St., where she attacked a 77-year-old man and his wife, Rowe said. The couple was in a parked car in a space reserved for the disabled when Martinez opened the right rear passenger door and started hurling items from the back seat onto the ground.
When the man asked her what she wanted, Martinez “replied with profanity and said, ‘Give me the keys. Give me the money,”‘ the prosecutor said.
When the man said he did not have any money, she pulled out a “large kitchen knife” and started chasing him, Rowe said.
The man sustained a knife wound to the forearm before he and his wife ran into the grocery store and held the door shut so she could not get in, Rowe said.
As police converged on that location, one officer saw Martinez attempt to shove a bicycle through the door of the man’s car, Rowe said. Martinez hopped on the bike and rode off with the knife held aloft, she said.
At least five patrol cars followed the suspect as she pedaled to Cesar Chavez Campesino Park at 3311 W. Fifth St., where she ditched the bike, Rowe said. She was shot after refusing multiple commands to drop the knife, according to the prosecutor, who said blood tests done at a hospital showed she had amphetamines and THC in her system.
Martinez pleaded guilty to two felony counts of inflicting injury on an elder adult and single counts each of attempted carjacking, second-degree robbery and attempted burglary, along with three misdemeanor counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and admitted sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon, according to court records.
–City News Service