Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 4:31 am | Fair 36º


Local News

DA Rules Officers Justified in June Shooting in Santa Maria

Law enforcement officers were acting in self-defense and therefore justified in fatally shooting a prison parolee and known gang member in Santa Maria in June, according to a ruling Wednesday by Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley.

Jose Luis Ortega, 22, was shot and killed in an incident that began about 7 a.m. on June 28, as officers of the Santa Maria Police Department, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department and California State Parole attempted to serve a drug- and gang-related search warrant on Ortega at his residence in the 300 block of West Sunset Avenue, according to Dudley’s report.

Ortega left his residence and got into the front passenger seat of a red Acura, at which time officers began following the car to make a traffic stop.

As the vehicle approached North Broadway, Ortega ran from the car, pulling a .38-caliber handgun from his waistband and turning the weapon toward officers, according to the report.

Ortega was hit by three rounds and died at the scene near Bunny Avenue and Lincoln Street, in the northwest section of the city.

Two other occupants in the vehicle — Jose Rangel Rincon, 34, and Crystal Georgia Marquez, 34, both of Santa Maria — were arrested on misdemeanor charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

The Sheriff’s Department handled both the criminal investigation and the review of the officer-involved shooting.

Dudley’s detailed report shows witness statements from seven officers, two of whom shot rounds at Ortega. Both shooting officers have more than 10 years of experience as peace officers, according to the report.

She said the names of all officers and deputies involved were not released Wednesday for safety reasons.

“At this time, it is too dangerous for the safety of those individuals to release their names because there have been documented threats to retaliate against these law enforcement officers,” Dudley wrote in the report.

Their identities might be released at a later time if Dudley determines the safety risk no longer exists, she wrote.
The district attorney’s report also includes the results of the search of Ortega’s residence, which turned up methamphetamine smoking pipes, drug packaging tear-offs, a notebook and pad with gang writings, and a “Hoppe’s” firearm cleaning kit.

She wrote that Ortega was on parole for one felony count of domestic violence and one felony count of participation in a street gang — both occurring in 2010.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >