NAPA COUNTY, Calif. – A suspect who opened fire on a Napa County sheriff’s deputy while she stood outside his car window during an investigation was in the U.S. illegally and had been deported three times, authorities said.
Javier Hernandez-Morales, who was killed Sunday in an exchange of gunfire, had been arrested several times since his last removal to Mexico in 2010, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Since then, federal immigration authorities said, they issued four detainers in Napa and Sonoma counties, but none were honored by the jails, reported the Los Angeles Times.
“It’s unfortunate that our law enforcement partners and the community are subjected to dangerous consequences because of inflexible state laws that protect criminal aliens,” ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said in a statement.
The lethal encounter could have been prevented had ICE been kept in the loop about Hernandez-Morales’ releases from jail, according to Rocha. “This is an impactful, scary example of how public safety is affected by laws or policies limiting local law enforcement agencies’ ability to cooperate with ICE,” he said.
Read the full statement from ICE:
Javier Hernandez-Morales was a Mexican national unlawfully present in the United States who had been previously removed three times prior to 2011.
After 2011, ICE issued detainers four separate times for Hernandez-Morales following his arrests for local crimes including driving under the influence, battery on a peace officer, selling liquor to a minor and probation violations. None of the four detainers lodged were honored by local jails.
ICE is grateful the deputy involved in this shooting was not harmed during this attack. It’s unfortunate that our law enforcement partners and the community are subjected to dangerous consequences because of inflexible state laws that protect criminal aliens.
This incident may have been prevented if ICE had been notified about any of the multiple times Hernandez-Morales was released from local custody over the last few years. This is an impactful, scary example of how public safety is affected by laws or policies limiting local law enforcement agencies’ ability to cooperate with ICE.
Background information (on the record):
Hernandez-Morales was removed twice in 2007 and once in 2010.
ICE issued three detainers to Napa County Jail; one each in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – none of which were honored.
ICE issued a detainer to Sonoma County Jail in 2016 which was not honored.
The Napa County Sheriff’s Office released a 48-second video that captured the deadly shooting.
It shows a deputy, identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Riley Jarecki, on the passenger side of Hernandez-Morales’ car shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday asking if she could look around. The man threw up his hands, a gesture that suggested she could proceed.
“Wait right there, don’t move, OK?” Jarecki says. She shines her flashlight in the car before walking around to the driver’s side.
There, she knocks on the window and asks him three times to roll it down.
He does. Moments later, Hernandez-Morales pulls out a gun and, in close range, opens fire on the deputy.
Jarecki calls for help while running to the other side of the car, where she returned fire. Fortunately, she was uninjured.
However, her assailant was not as lucky. Hernandez-Morales died at the scene.
ICE said Hernandez-Morales was deported twice in 2007 and once in 2010. Since then, the agency said, he had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, battery on a peace officer, selling liquor to a minor and probation violations.
ICE said it issued three detainers in Napa County — in 2014, 2015 and 2016 — and one in Sonoma County in 2016.
Hernandez-Morales’ brushes with the law occurred before Senate Bill 54, the state’s so-called sanctuary law, took effect in January of last year. The law—abhorred by most street cops—prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials in many cases when immigrants potentially subject to deportation are about to be released from custody.
Shootings such as the one Sunday night have stirred the debate over illegal immigration and have been cited by President Trump as a reason to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border.
In December, a man who was in the country illegally and had known gang ties was arrested in the fatal shooting of a Cpl. Ronil Singh during a traffic stop in Stanislaus County.
Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson blames SB-54 for Singh’s murder. Under SB-54 local law enforcement can’t provide ICE with any information on a crime committed by an illegal that is a misdemeanor the sheriff of Stanislaus County said, voicing his frustration at the time.
“I’m suggesting the outcome could have been different. If law enforcement wasn’t prohibited, restricted or had their hands tied from political interference.”
SB-54 also prohibits ICE agents from being deployed in California jails. Sheriff Margaret Mims says it handcuffs their ability to keep California communities safe.
“It’s ridiculous the state dictates the local law enforcement which other law enforcement agencies they can and can’t talk to,” she said.
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke says something has to be done to shake up the status quo.
“Folks want to get after President Trump because of the wall, well you know what come up with an idea, do something, because what we got right now isn’t working.”