GARDEN GROVE (CBSLA) — The Orange County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday released body camera video of a confrontation between a Garden Grove police officer an a suspected car thief that ended with the alleged burglar dead.
On Feb. 26, 2020, 31-year-old James Salazar was caught on camera allegedly stealing a Dodger Challenger from a car dealership. A few minutes after taking the car, he hit a center median pole on Harbor Boulevard near Trask Avenue — right in front of officer Jorge Mazon.
Mazon then approached the vehicle, not knowing at the time that it had allegedly been stolen. Mazon called for backup as Salazar refused to follow the officer’s commands and walked over to the patrol vehicle.
Salazar then got into Mazon’s patrol car and again refused to comply with Mazon’s commands.
Body camera video then shows Salazar driving away in the patrol car as the officer hung onto the driver’s side window. As the patrol car was about to collide with the Challenger, officer Mazon pulled out his gun and fired on Salazar, who in the video can be heard saying, “I don’t wanna [expletive] kill a cop.”
Backup arrived on the scene just as the car was coming to a stop and officers rushed to help both Mazon and Salazar. Salazar died at the scene from his injuries.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer ruled that his office did not have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mazon was not justified in believing Salazar posed a significant threat.