A Williams police officer pointed at Jowell Gutierrez, 36, sitting in a grey suit jacket between his two public defenders last week, and alleged that Gutierrez fired several rounds at him and his partner from a second-story apartment.
Gutierrez’s week long trial began Thursday for two counts of attempted first-degree murder against a police officer, two counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal damage.
Prosecutors allege that Gutierrez was hoping to kill himself and others in a firefight with police officers that broke out on Nov. 28, 2017 in Williams. Gutierrez’s public defenders Staci Foulks and Charles Doughty allege that while their client certainly shot bullets at the officer's vehicle, he only shot at the officers to provoke them into shooting him.
“Ultimately you will find him guilty,” Doughty said. “You will find him guilty of disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon.”
If found guilty on all charges, Gutierrez could spend a maximum of 42 years in prison.
Bullet holes in police cars
Prosecutor Ammon Barker said in his opening statements that Gutierrez woke up on Nov. 28, 2017 and made a decision that he did not want to live any longer.
“He made remarks that he was going to kill police, and that he was going to kill himself,” Barker said. “This case is about more than suicide. He was willing to take himself and two officers.”
Gutierrez called his boss, Steve Owens, that morning very agitated, Barker said. Owens explained his attempt to calm Gutierrez down last year in response to Barker’s questioning on trial Thursday.
“I was trying to calm him down through his statements,” Owens said. “He reiterated through my conversation with him, ‘if a cop gets near him he will shoot him, he will [expletive] shoot him.’”
When the Williams police officers were first informed about Gutierrez, they were informed he was suicidal and armed; however, as the day progressed, they were told that he might be planning to commit suicide by cop, Detective Jerry Wilson explained.
“Suicide is not a crime; I was just trying to help him,” Wilson said about his actions on the scene.
Wilson and another officer parked in an alleyway beneath a two-story apartment building where they suspected Gutierrez was located.
After the officers arrived on scene, shots split through the air, Wilson alleged. Barker explained that 18 bullets were unloaded into the front of the vehicle his partner was driving.
Wilson, a trained weapons expert, recognized the sound of Gutierrez’s high-powered Dragonov rifle and said he had seen that rifle shoot through a quarter-inch plate of titanium “like a hot knife through butter.”
Eventually, the bullets ceased. On the other side of the building, an officer was speaking to Gutierrez on the suspect’s girlfriend’s phone, Barker explained. Wilson's colleague eventually talked Gutierrez out of the apartment.
“[Expletive] the police,” Wilson reported Gutierrez yelling as he left the apartment.
Gutierrez’s public defenders painted him as a man who was dealing with depression. And despite his decision to shoot at officers, his attorneys allege he never intended to kill them.
“The impact, as the evidence will show, stayed within a radius of a few feet around the truck,” Doughty said. “The fire did not track Officer Anderson as he retreated to the left rear tire of that truck.”
The state is expected to finish presenting their evidence early this week, allowing the defense the opportunity to present further evidence.