Two former Los Angeles-area police detectives have been charged in the 2020 shooting of an unarmed man that left him paralyzed from the waist down, the district attorney said Wednesday. Former Whittier detectives Cynthia Lopez and Salvador Murillo opened fire on April 30, 2020, as Nicholas Carrillo ran from them. Two bullets struck him in the back — one severing his spinal cord — as he climbed a fence to escape.
“Although he was lucky to survive, his life was forever changed, and he must now begin using a wheelchair,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday during a news conference.
Murillo is charged with two counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and two counts of assault under color of authority. Lopez faces two counts of assault under color of authority, one count of shooting into an occupied vehicle and one count of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. Prosecutors filed the charges Tuesday.
The detectives were in plainclothes and an unmarked car when they spotted a sedan that had been supposedly used during an unarmed robbery the month before, Gascón said. A woman was the suspect in that robbery at a Walmart, where a television was stolen. Carrillo was alone in the car on the day he was shot.
The detectives followed the sedan into an alley, and emerged from their vehicle with their guns drawn. The sedan reversed and collided with the detectives’ car, Gascón said.
Lopez fired into the sedan’s rear windshield, prosecutors said. Carrillo then ran from the car and Lopez and Murillo opened fire as they chased him. He was not armed.
They are expected to be arraigned Monday. It was not immediately clear whether they had attorneys who could speak on their behalf.
The detectives are no longer employed by the Whittier Police Department, which directed media inquiries to prosecutors.
“The Whittier Police Department, which is committed to responsible and accountable policing, will provide assistance to the District Attorney’s Office as needed,” Whittier Police Chief Aviv Bar said in a statement after the charges were announced.
The Whittier Police Officers’ Association, the union that represents the department’s rank-and-file officers, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Whittier is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
The Whittier case comes two weeks after Gascón’s office charged seven California Highway Patrol officers and a nurse with involuntary manslaughter in the 2020 death of a man who screamed “I can’t breathe” while multiple officers restrained him as they tried to take a blood sample.
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