Madera D.A. rules Chowchilla officer-involved shooting was justified, officials say

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MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – The Madera District Attorney’s Office has ruled that the shooting of a man armed with a rifle by three Chowchilla police officers was justified.

On May 29, 2021, officials say Angel Cruz Garza was shot by Officers Nick Escalera, James DeWall and Gilberto Marquez after he entered a marked patrol vehicle in the back parking lot of the Chowchilla Police Department and shot an AR-15 style rifle in the direction of Officer Escalera.

According to D.A. officials, Garza refused to follow commands of the three officers who had asked him to get out of the vehicle and drop the rifle before the shooting occurred. Authorities say after Garza refused to listen, he pointed the rifle at Officer Escalera and fired in his direction; this led to all three officers firing their weapons at Garza to protect themselves and Officer Escalera.

Authorities say investigators determined a total of 18 rounds were fired by the three officers at Garza. According to the D.A. Officer Escalera and Officer Marquez fired approximately eight rounds while Officer DeWall fired approximately two.

The D.A. released the following in a statement regarding the officer-involved shooting:

“Officer Escalera’s, Officer De Wall’s and Officer Marquez’s use of deadly force was a justifiable
response to prevent the threat of imminent death or great bodily harm. Therefore, it is the opinion
of the District Attorney’s Office that the use of deadly force by Officer Escalera, Officer De Wall
and Officer Marquez did not involve any criminal conduct.”

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