Video Captures Suspect Shot by Anaheim Police as He Throws Gun; DA Says Shooting Justified

A man is seen throwing a gun into the air as he's shot by Anaheim police officers in video released Wednesday by the Orange County District Attorney's Office, which has said the non-fatal shooting was a justified use of force.

The shooting followed a 911 call received by police about 6 p.m. on Aug. 23, 2016 reporting a woman and her boyfriend had been assaulted by three alleged gang members armed with a gun, knife and spiked bat, according to the DA's office. The suspect later shot, Alan-Osvaldo Reza, was left in critical condition.

Alan-Osvaldo Reza-Palamino, 20, is seen in this image provided by the Anaheim Police Department.

After police tracked down suspects — in a pursuit caught on newly released aerial footage — the suspect accused of threatening the victims with a gun eventually got out of the vehicle and started running.

Reza, 20, is seen running from officers in video released by the DA's office. As the police officers ran after him, they feared he was armed since he allegedly was earlier in the evening and appeared to be keeping one arm near his waistband as he ran, according to prosecutors.

Officer Jason Smith ordered Reza to drop the weapon but Reza ignored him and kept going, prosecutors allege.

At some point, when Smith was just about 10 to 15 feet away from Reza, the officer saw him allegedly turn toward around and "the barrel of a gun come up," according to a statement from the DA's office.

"Officer Smith believed Reza was getting ready to turn and shoot, and thought Reza was trying to kill him," the statement reads.  "Another officer thought he saw a weapon come out of Reza’s waistband and yelled, 'Gun, gun, gun.'"

That's when Smith fired his gun, prosecutors said.

"At the same time, officers saw something black fly up into the air and heard the sound of metal striking the ground," the DA's statement continues.

Authorities later found a black bandanna and a loaded semi-automatic Raven Arms .25 Auto caliber pistol was found near where Reza was shot, prosecutors said.

Reza was rushed to UC Irvine-Medical Center to be treated for one gunshot wound and later recovered, authorities said.

Reza, who authorities have said was a known gang member and a suspect in a previous gang shooting, was convicted of charges related to the case earlier this month. He will be sentenced in January.

The DA's office released a statement detailing the events leading up to the chase and shooting. The following is that account.

About 10:30 p.m., an officer spotted Reza and one of the other two suspects, Frank V., between Neighbors Avenue and Glen Street.

Authorities had launched an extensive search effort, armed with undercover vehicles and officers working to track down the two men and a third female suspect, Julie B.

Just over four hours earlier, police had got the call reporting an assault by the three alleged gang members —Reza, Frank V. and Julie B., who was accused of holding a spiked bat.

The trio had asked the victims where they were from and then threatened the couple after finding out they weren't in a gang, with Reza allegedly pointing a gun at them.

The alleged gang members followed the victims to their apartment when they tried escaping. The suspects removed the male victim from the residence although it's unclear how they managed to get him out of the home. They then allegedly assaulted him.

The suspects fled before police arrived, and the man who was assaulted later told officers that one of the suspects showed two guns placed in his waistband, according to prosecutors.

Later in the evening, about 10:30 p.m., an officer spotted Reza and Frank V. as they entered a silver Honda driven by Humberto M. Reza.

Humberto later told officers that Reza pointed a gun at him as he started to fear the police and ordered him to "Go, go." Fearing Reza would shoot him, Humberto said he deliberately drove slowly so police could stop the chase.

When interviewed by police, Frank V. said he told Reza to stop pointing the gun at Humberto.

Driving a marked patrol vehicle, Officer Smith tried pulling the men over but the vehicle wouldn't stop. Five other patrol vehicles followed along with Smith at low speeds until eventually Smith did a PIT maneuver.

At that point, another patrol vehicle blocked the front of the Honda and Reza jumped out of the passenger side. He started running from the officers.

Smith got out of his patrol vehicle and chased Reza, who fled into a strip mall parking lot. With his weapon drawn, Smith followed Reza along with three other officers.

The officers continued running after Reza until he reached a corridor in the strip mall, where he appeared to be turning around to face Smith, who then fired at him.

Prosecutors said the time span between Smith jumping out of his patrol car and the shooting was just 15 seconds long.

After investigating the incident, the DA's office determined the officer was not guilty of any criminal act in the shooting.

"It is our legal opinion that there is no evidence of criminal culpability on the part of Officer Jason Smith and there is substantial evidence that his actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances when he shot Alan Osvaldo Reza on Aug. 23, 2016," the DA statement reads.

On Nov. 6, Reza was convicted of battery, assault with a deadly weapon, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, kidnapping during the commission of carjacking and assault with a semiautomatic firearm.

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