A $4 million settlement has been reached between the City of Guadalupe and family members of an innocent bystander fatally wounded by an errant bullet fired by a police officer two years ago.
The federal lawsuit stemmed from the August 2021 fatal shooting on Obispo Street that left a husband and father of four dead.
Investigators determined that Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado, 59, died from a single gunshot wound to his head as he sat in his vehicle parked in his driveway on Aug. 21, 2021, according to the California Department of Justice review, which recommended that the Guadalupe Police Department implement a number of changes.
According to the report released earlier this year, investigators found that one bullet “likely ricocheted off the ground, traveled approximately 174 feet, entered a slightly ajar car door, and penetrated Mr. Olvera-Preciado’s body.”
Officer Miguel Jaimes fired three times, missing the suspect, David Cruz, who is referred to in the report as David C. and DC.
The incident began with the search for a man who started a small fire in the city, with Cruz identified as the possible suspect and confirmed to have two outstanding warrants — a felony no-bail warrant and a $5,000 misdemeanor warrant.
Cruz was found but refused to comply with officers’ commands and fled.
A few seconds later, Officer Christopher Orozco told investigators, he saw Cruz “punch out” his right arm. Although the suspect denied having anything in his hand before the shooting, he also later admitted he “could’ve’ held a black butane torch in his right hand, that the torch ‘probably’ looked like a gun when he took it out, and he thought that was why the officer fired at him,” the report said.
Orozco was in fear and his “heart dropped” because he believed Cruz was going to shoot him or Jaimes, the report said.
State investigators concluded that Jaimes acted in “lawful self-defense of others” when he fired his weapon and was not criminally liable for Olvera-Preciado’s death.
Olvera family attorney Arnoldo Casillas filed a federal lawsuit in May 2022.
The lawsuit named the estate of Juan Luis Olvera plus his widow, Silvia Moya Olvera, and their four children — Luis Alberto Olvera, Juan Junior Olvera, Zuleima Olvera and Jorge Alberto Olvera — as plaintiffs, and the City of Guadalupe, the Guadalupe Police Department and Officer Miguel Jaimes as defendants.
The case and an agreement for private mediation remained in limbo awaiting the completion of the state’s investigation and the findings, released in January.
After meeting with a private mediator, attorneys for both sides told the court they had reached a settlement, which was approved by the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority in March.
“The family was truly touched by the response by the city to this tragedy from the time it happened until it was eventually resolved,” Casillas said. “They handled the matter with true care, compassion and professionalism.”
Final resolution of the lawsuit is pending in federal court while an attorney sets up a trust for a disabled adult son’s share of the settlement.
That law requires the state to investigate any officer-involved shooting that leads to the death of an unarmed civilian in California. The Guadalupe case is the second report issued by the state under the law, with 41 investigations remaining open.