Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

The OCDA has concluded their investigation into the non-fatal shooting of Pablo Santos Alferez-Barahona, age 32, by Anaheim police officers, on November 9, 2020.

On November 9, 2020, investigators from the OCDA Special Assignments Unit {OCDASAU) responded to this incident. During the course of their investigation, five interviews were conducted, and 40 additional witnesses were contacted. OCDASAU Investigators also obtained and reviewed the following: APO reports, audio dispatch and radio traffic recordings; Orange County Crime Laboratory (OCCL) reports, including DNA reports, officer processing and firearms examination reports; crime scene investigation photographs; medical records and photographs related to the injuries sustained by Alferez-Barahona; criminal history records related to Alferez­ Barahona; and other relevant reports and materials including audio recordings of the conducted neighborhood canvass.

On November 29, 2021, Alferez-Barahona pled guilty to human trafficking in Orange County Superior Court case number 20NF3060, and brandishing a firearm at a person in a motor vehicle In Orange County Superior Court case number 21NF2814.

On November 8, 2020, a reporting party (RP) went to APO and told officers that he paid a man (Suspect) to bring his minor nephew into the United States over the Mexico-United States border. The RP agreed to pay the Suspect, also known as a “coyote,” an amount of money for this service. Later, the Suspect contacted the RP and said an additional $7,000 was needed or the boy would be killed. The RP gave Anaheim Police officers the phone number he used to contact the Suspect.

Based on the phone number provided, Anaheim Police officers obtained search warrants to determine the Suspect’s location. Because the investigation involved a minor child being in danger, officers were focused on the safest means to apprehend the Suspect and rescue the child. This included potentially using specially trained officers {SWAT).

Police officers told the RP to call the Suspect and ask to speak with his nephew so they could help determine the child’s location. The Suspect did not respond, and instead called the RP back from a new, non-US phone number. The RP was unable to speak with his nephew, and due to the new phone number, officers were unable to verify the Suspect’s location.

Further investigation into the original phone number revealed an associated address at an apartment complex near Lincoln Ave and Syracuse Street in Anaheim. On November 8, 2020, at approximately 11:30 p.m., several APD Investigators, including Detective Delgadillo, began surveilling the apartment complex.

The surveillance continued overnight and into the next day, November 9, 2020. On November 9, 2020, at approximately 4:00 a.m., Detective Delgadillo was assigned as the primary observer, watching Apartments 3 and 4 from an undercover police car. Because Detective Delgadillo was working undercover, he was not wearing a police uniform, ballistic vest, or body-worn camera. He did have his duty weapon, a Glock, Model 17, semi-automatic pistol, serial number GCS422, as well as a police radio, close by. His ballistic vest, which has “POLICE” written on it in large white letters, and his body worn camera were in the backseat of his vehicle. Detective Delgadillo had worked undercover surveillance many times before. He knew that “coyotes” are sometimes involved with Mexican cartels, organizations whose members engage in violent acts, including murder.

To conduct surveillance, Detective Delgadillo parked his vehicle across the street from the apartment complex at a shopping center. He put up his window shades so it would be harder to see inside his car from the outside, and sat in the passenger seat which was closer to the apartment complex. He then used binoculars to watch the apartments.

At approximately 4:30 a.m., Detective Delgadillo observed a male subject, later identified as Alferez­ Barahona, exit Apartment 4. Detective Delgadillo watched as Alferez-Barahona looked into the cars that were parked along Syracuse Street and then returned inside Apartment 4.

At approximately 5:35 a.m., a black Toyota Camry pulled up to the apartment complex. The driver exited and moved items from the rear passenger seat into the trunk. The driver then approached Apartment 4, and without going inside turned around and got back into the driver seat of the Camry. At approximately 5:50 a.m., Detective Delgadillo then observed Alferez-Barahona get into the front passenger seat of the Camry. The Camry made a u-turn and drove toward Lincoln Avenue.

Shortly thereafter, Detective Delgadillo observed bright lights behind his car. Initially, Detective Delgadillo believed it was another police officer. Surveillance video from one of the shopping center’s businesses revealed it was the Camry. At approximately 5:51 a.m., the surveillance video showed Alferez-Barahona exit the Camry and pull a handgun from his right rear waistband.

Alferez-Barahona was then observed on the video placing one hand on the slide of the gun and moving it back and then forward, as if “racking the slide” and placing a round in the gun’s chamber. Alferez-Barahona then held the gun to his side as he walked towards the passenger side of Detective Delgadillo’s car.

Detective Delgadillo stated that he saw that Alferez-Barahona had a gun and broadcasted over his police radio, “He has a gun.” Detective Delgadillo observed Alferez-Barahona approach the vehicle, lean his face towards the passenger window and point his gun towards the passenger door. Detective Delgadillo later told investigators that he felt trapped in the passenger seat of the vehicle and believed he was in a vulnerable position.

Alferez-Barahona then moved towards the rear passenger door and stayed there for a few seconds before moving back to the front passenger door. At that time, Detective Delgadillo pulled his Glock fiream, and held it without it being visible to Alferez-Barahona.

At approximately 5:51a.m., Alferez-Barahona was still right by Detective Delgadillo, holding the firearm at a “fow ready” position. If Alferez-Barahona pulled the trigger, Detective Delgadillo believed he was “in the line of fire” and would be shot. Detective Delgadillo opened his front passenger door a little bit and said “What’s up?” in Spanish. Alferez-Barahona did not reply, and instead he began to slightly raise his gun toward Detective Delgadillo. Detective Delgadillo then yelled “Police” in Spanish. Based on his prior experience conducting undercover surveillance, Detective Delgadillo believed that after identifying himself as a police officer, Alferez-Barahona would run or drop his weapon. Instead, Alferez-Barahona did not respond and continued to point his gun in Detective Delgadillo’s direction.

Detective Delgadillo believed that Alferez-Barahona was going to shoot him. Detective Delgadillo also felt he was a “sitting target” in the car, because he was restrained; he could not move away, take cover, or take other defensive measures that he learned during his training as a police officer. Believing Alferez-Barahona was going to shoot him, Detective Delgadillo fired one round through the small opening of his vehicle’s door. Alferez-Barahona did not move and continued to point his gun toward Detective Delgadillo. Detective Delgadillo then fired four more rounds while he simultaneously pushed his car door open the rest of the way and got out of the car. Detective Delgadillo stopped firing when Alferez-Barahona turned and ran from the scene.

Detective Delgadillo stated that at the time he was in shock. He looked at the Camry and observed the driver looking back at him. Detective Delgadillo was afraid the Camry would try to run him over, and so he pointed his gun at the Camry. The driver ducked, turned the wheels away from the direction of Detective Delgadillo, and drove quickly out of the parking lot of the shopping center.

At the same time, Alferez-Barahona ran southbound through the parking lot of the shopping center. Surveillance video captured Alferez-Barahona discarding his handgun. The gun was later recovered from a storm drain and determined to be a Polymer 80 semiautomatic handgun. When recovered, the gun was loaded with a bullet in the chamber and a partially seated magazine.

After the Camry drove away, Detective Delgadillo returned to his vehicle, donned his tactical vest and relayed “998” over the radio, advising his fellow officers that an “officer-involved shooting” occurred. Detective Delgadillo then removed the magazine from his gun and put it in his pocket. He reloaded the gun with a fresh, fully loaded magazine.

Officers responded quickly and Sergeant Tony Lee stayed with Detective Delgadillo. Five shell casings were located at the scene. Other responding officers observed Mr. Alferez-Barahona running in the area and ultimately took him into custody near the entrance of a mobile home park located at 2760 West Lincoln Ave. When officers noticed Alferez-Barahona appeared to be bleeding from the abdomen, they requested medical assistance.

At approximately 6:05 a.m., Anaheim Fire and Rescue Department arrived and began administering medical aid to Alferez-Barahona. The treating paramedic found Alferez-Barahona was alert and responsive, however, he had suffered four total gunshot wounds, two to his abdomen, one to his upper left am,, and one to his upper right arm. Alferez-Barahona was transported to University of California, Irvine Medical Center (UCIMC) for further treatment. His wounds were later determined to be non-life-threatening.

At approximately 9:54 a.m., Alferez-Barahona was advised of his Miranda rights and declined to make a statement or provide a DNA sample.

On November 10, 2020, Juan Carlos Ortiz Castaneda responded to APO. He identified himself as the driver of the Camry, stating he knew his car was involved in a shooting because he saw it on the news. After agreeing to be interviewed, Castaneda stated he was at the apartment complex to visit his sister. He agreed to give Alferez-Barahona a ride to the grocery store, even though it was very close to the apartment. When they arrived at the grocery store, it was closed. Alferez-Barahona then told him to stop the car in the pawn shop parking lot across from the apartment complex. Mr. Castaneda said Alferez-Barahona got out of the car and the next thing he knew, he heard gunshots. He was scared so he drove away. He stated he did not call anyone, because he didn’t have a cell phone with him at that time. When asked about the location of the Camry, Castaneda said he didn’t know the street he parked it on, and that a friend gave him a ride to the police station.

EVIDENCE COLLECTED

The following items of evidence were collected and examined:

  • Clothing found on the parkway of 2760 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Black jacket found on ground north of 2760 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Black folding knife on ground north of 2760 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Two black cell phones found on the ground under a 1987 blue motorhome CA license plate 2DYR525 parked at 2760 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Silver and gold “Michael Kors” watch near the left front tire of a 1992 beige motorhome with CA license plate 6YES147 parked at 2760 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Red and white bandana on the ground east of a 2003 silver SUV CA license plate 5ELW940 parked at 2760 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Cartridge case with headstamp “WIN 9mm Luger” on the ground east of the rear passenger tire of Detective Delgadillo’s undercover car parked at 2743 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Cartridge case with headstamp “WIN 9mm Luger” on the ground east of the rear passenger tire of Detective Delgadillo’s undercover car parked at 2743 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Cartridge case with headstamp ‘WIN 9mm Luger” on the ground east of the rear passenger tire of Detective Delgadillo’s undercover car parked at 2743 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Cartridge case with headstamp ‘WIN 9mm Luger” on the ground under the front passenger door of Detective Delgadillo’s undercover car parked at 2743 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Cartridge case with headstamp “WIN 9mm Luger” on right front floorboard of Detective Delgadillo’s undercover car parked at 2743 West Lincoln Ave.
  • Black radio in northwest parking lot of the pawn shop at 2743 W Lincoln Ave.
  • Black plastic clip in southwest_ parking lot of 2743 W Lincoln Ave.
  • Tan “P80” handgun, loaded with a bullet in the chamber and partially seated magazine (serial# 40-23-SS) in the storm drain opening in the southeast comer of the pawn shop parking lot.
  • Radio microphone on north sidewalk to the front of the pawn shop.
  • Bullet strike mark east of the pawn shop driveway.
  • Bullet fragment in the west parking lot of a tattoo shop at 2741 W Lincoln Ave.
  • Bullet strike mark to the rear cargo door of 2020 gray minivan CA license plate 8LLH041 parked west of the east North Syracuse Street curb edge, facing north.
  • Bullet fragment in the rear cargo door of 2020 gray minivan CA license plate 8LLH041 parked west of the east North Syracuse Street curb edge, facing north.

EVIDENCE ANALYSIS

Firearms Examination

Detective Delgadillo’s Glock, Model 17, semi-automatic pistol, serial number GCS422, was test fired at OCCL and operated without malfunction.

It was determined the five “WIN 9mm Luger” cartridges found near the undercover vehicle matched test fired cartridge cases from Detective Delgadillo’s gun.

The bullet fragments from the 2020 gray minivan and the bullet fragment in the west parking lot of the tattoo shop at 2741 W Lincoln Ave share class characteristics firing related marks with Detective Delgadillo’s gun, but were too impact damaged to determine if each one was fired from his gun.

The Glock style Polymer80 semiautomatic .40 caliber pistol (no serial number) was test fired and operated without malfunction.

DNA Analysis

A DNA sample was later obtained from Alferez-Barahona. The handgun located in the storm drain was tested for DNA and found to have DNA from one major contributor and two trace contributors. Based on a comparison between the DNA sample provided by Alferez-Barahona and the DNA located on the handgun, OCCL determined there was “very strong support that Alferez[-Barahona] is the major contributor” to the DNA found on the handgun.

ALFEREZ-BARAHONA’S PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Alferez-Barahona’s criminal history was reviewed and considered. Alferez-Barahona has a California Criminal History that dates back to 2020. He. has previously been arrested for the following charges:

• Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse/cohabitant
• Battery to spouse/ex-spouse

LEGAL ANALYSIS

The facts in this case are determined by considering all relevant evidence, including Detective Delgadillo’s statements to the OCDA investigators, surveillance video, physical evidence collected, and all witness statements to OCDASAU Investigators.

The issue is whether the conduct of Detective Delgadillo on November 9, 2020, was without legal justification and criminally culpable. As previously stated in order to charge Detective Delgadillo with a criminal violation, it is required that the prosecution be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that no legal justification existed for his conduct, including self-defense. If the actions of Detective Delgadillo were justifiable as lawful self-defense, then criminal charges will not be warranted.

Detective Delgadillo was justified in believing that Alferez-Barahona posed a significant threat of death or serious physical injury to himself and others. This conclusion is based on the totality of the circumstances, but mainly the conduct of Alferez-Barahona in the moments leading up to the shooting.

Alferez-Barahona was in a car that approached Detective Delgadillo from behind. Alferez­ Barahona got out of his car, retrieved a loaded firearm, and held it in his right hand as he approached Detective Delgadillo. He peered inside Detective Delgadillo’s car with the gun at the “low ready” position. When Detective Delgadillo asked Alferez-Barahona ‘What’s up,” Alferez-Barahona ignored him and continued to point his gun toward Detective Delgadillo by raising his hand slightly. After Detective Delgadillo identified himself as a police officer, Alferez-Barahona maintained his position. Believing he was trapped in his car with a man pointing a gun at him and fearing that he would be shot, Detective Delgadillo fired one shot at Alferez-Barahona.

Despite being shot, Alferez-Barahona continued to point the gun at Detective Delgadillo. Detective Delgadillo then exited the vehicle and observed Alferez-Barahona still pointing his gun at him. Detective Delgadillo, continuing to fear for his safety, fired four additional rounds at Alferez­ Barahona.

Detective Delgadillo’s state of mind immediately prior to the shooting is also legally relevant. Detective Delgadillo was parked in a commercial parking lot conducting surveillance in relation to a reported child kidnapping. The Suspect was believed to potentially be a member or associate of a Mexican cartel. Detective Delgadillo knew cartel members can be very violent with police officers. Detective Delgadillo knew the Suspect had already threatened to kill the child if he didn’t receive more money from the child’s uncle.

When Alferez-Barahona approached, Detective Delgadillo was parked in an undercover car, and seated in the passenger seat. This significantly limited his movements and obviously prevented him from possibly driving away or escaping from the other side of the vehicle.

Detective Delgadillo believed Alferez-Barahona was associated with the kidnapping because Detective Delgadillo saw him come out of Apartment 4. He also observed Alferez-Barahona with a gun prior to the shooting and pointing it at the car. Detective Delgadillo realized he was in a vulnerable position. Detective Delgadillo knew from experience that when he identifies himself as a police officer, individuals will generally discard their weapons or run away. Alferez-Barahona’sfailure to retreat or lower the weapon only raised his fear that Alferez-Barahona was going to shoot him.

Based on the evidence obtained during this investigation, OCDA would be unable to prove that Detective Delgadillo acted unreasonably or unjustifiably in his own self-defense. A jury analyzing these facts would properly conclude that it was reasonable for Detective Delgadillo to believe that his life was in danger. Therefore, Detective Delgadillo appears to have been justified when he shot Alferez-Barahona. Simply stated, Detective Delgadillo appears to have carried out his duties as a peace office in a reasonable and justifiable manner.

CONCLUSION

Based upon a review of all of the evidence provided to and obtained by the OCDA, and based on the entirety of the facts contained in all the available reports and interviews reviewed, and pursuant to the applicable legal principles, it is our legal opinion that there is no evidence of criminal culpability on the part of Detective Delgadillo and there is substantial evidence that his actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances when he shot Alferez-Barahona on November 9, 2020.



By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

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