California police officials have released a wrong-way driver accused of driving his SUV into a group of police recruits and staff earlier this week, citing the “extreme complexity” of the ongoing case.
Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was released from police custody late Thursday — hours after authorities announced he had been charged with attempted murder in connection with Wednesday’s fatal wrong-way wreck. .
In a shocking reversal, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday morning that the agency had released Gutierrez just before 10 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Driver Wrongly Charged in Whittier Crash, Attempted Murder After Attacking Sheriff’s Recruits
“Due to the extreme complexity of the investigation, which required ongoing interviews, review of video surveillance, and analysis of additional evidence, homicide investigators assigned Mr. Gutierrez to Sheriff’s Office,” the agency announced in a press release. has been released from the custody of the department.” Change
A charge of attempted murder of a peace officer(s) requires proof that the crime was committed intentionally rather than by mistake or distraction or otherwise implied. This act was to be committed.
According to the local affiliation FOX 11 Los AngelesSheriff Alex Villanueva said earlier that investigators had enough information to suspect a motive.
The video shows the moments before the California police recruits were hit by a car
“They did a thorough investigation. They interviewed dozens and dozens of witnesses and victims,” Villeneuve said, according to the report.
It was not immediately clear what specifically led to Gutierrez’s release.
On Wednesday, Villanueva said 75 recruits from Sheriff’s Academy Class 464 were running near the intersection of Mills Avenue and Telegraph Road in Whittier, Calif., just before 6:30 a.m. The group was running alongside a couple of police cars, and some runners were wearing reflective vests.
The SUV then plowed into a light pole before coming to a stop.
More than 20 policemen were injured in the commotion in the driver’s group
“It happened so fast that the only people who saw it jumped out of the way, but the people behind didn’t have a chance, because they never saw it,” Villanueva said. “They didn’t have enough warning.”
“Many bodies were scattered everywhere with injuries,” he said.
Gutierrez reportedly had a blood alcohol content of zero, and a field sobriety test was negative for apparent impairment. Information about any drugs in his system was not immediately available.
Many recruits suffered injuries that varied from broken bones to head trauma and “loss of limbs.” As of Wednesday, five were seriously injured.
LASD did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for information on the victims’ conditions.
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The California Highway Patrol is also investigating the collision. Anyone with information about this incident should call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homeside Bureau at 323-890-5500.
Fox News Digital’s Greg Norman contributed to this report.