ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY NEWS RELEASE
Case # 16CF3123
Date: October 24, 2017
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A drunken driver was sentenced to three years in state prison today for crashing into an Orange Police Department (OPD) officer who was standing behind his patrol vehicle on a residential street.
Defendant: Ashley Victoria Bertolino, 27, Tustin
Pleaded guilty on Aug. 29, 2017, to the following felony counts:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs causing bodily injury
- Driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury
- Driving with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more causing bodily injury
Sentencing Enhancements: Inflicting great bodily injury
Sentence: Three years in state prison
Circumstances of the Case
- At approximately 3:00 a.m. on Dec. 10, 2016, three officers from OPD responded to a call for service on a residential street.
- While at the scene, Officer Sharif Muzayen stood near the back of his patrol vehicle, which was parked alongside the curb, to gather paperwork.
- Bertolino had a blood alcohol level of .13 percent and was under the influence of methamphetamine and THC while driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone.
- The defendant drifted towards the curb and crashed into Officer Muzayen and the back of his patrol vehicle.
- The other officers at the scene ran to assist Officer Muzayen, who was pinned underneath Bertolino’s vehicle, and the defendant exited her vehicle.
- Bertolino was detained by OPD officers until officers from the California Highway Patrol (CHP), who investigated this case, arrived on scene.
- Officer Muzayen was transported to a local hospital and was hospitalized with major injuries.
- Bertolino was evaluated at a local hospital and arrested the following morning by CHP.
At the sentencing today, Officer Muzayen and his wife made powerful impact statements to the court pursuant to Marsy’s Law. Officer Muzayen spent five years in the United States Marine Corps, stating in part, “When I decided to leave the Marine Corps to become a police officer, my mindset never changed. I knew the dangers related to my job. I knew that not every day was guaranteed.” His tibia and fibula were broken and he lost nine pints of blood at the scene. In the ambulance after the crash, Officer Muzayen stated, “Two tours in Afghanistan and now I am going to lose my leg.” His leg was saved, but he is in constant pain with limited mobility. In addition to broken bones, the victim suffered from a brain hemorrhage and received skin grafts, including an artery from a cow.
Officer Muzayen spoke about what he hopes defendants can learn after hurting people in the commission of crimes, and stated, “I was hoping the incident would have taught you a similar lesson. But your behavior during the incident, arrest, and later on, as you were out on bail showed me with most certainty you did not.”
The victim’s wife spoke about the toll this incident has taken on their family and stated in part to the defendant, “The very thing that my children and I prayed every night to help protect us from, YOU made it a horrific reality … he is so unbelievably strong willed and he’s a survivor. The surgeons said the tourniquet saved his life.” She spoke about how her husband loved to hunt, fish, run, and play soccer with his kids prior to the crime, all activities he may never be able to do again. She then concluded, “The time you serve is ultimately irrelevant to [my husband], our children and myself because on that night you already sentenced US to a life that is forever changed.”
Prosecutor: Senior Deputy District Attorney Jess Rodriguez, Special Prosecutions Unit
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff
Michelle Van Der Linden,Spokesperson