LOS ANGELES — Police will postpone the release of body camera footage showing the initial moments after officers arrived at a mass shooting in Orange that killed four people last month.
Minutes before a news conference Wednesday where the footage was to be released, Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer raised concerns that the investigation into the killings would be adversely impacted.
In a letter to Orange Police Department Chief Tom Kisela, Spitzer asked officials not to release the body camera footage contained in a nine-minute critical incident video, which also includes portions of two 911 calls as well as details of items found in the possession of Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez, who has been charged in the shooting.
The video includes audio of multiple gunshots and footage of police opening fire at Gonzalez, according to the letter.
“The investigation into this quadruple murder and into the defendant’s background is ongoing,” Spitzer wrote. “Moreover, I have yet to decide on whether or not to seek the death penalty in this case. … Releasing the video could have a negative impact on the prosecution of this case and the future decisions about this case.”
Spitzer did not specify what details in the video would damage the investigation, if released.
State law requires the release of body-worn video footage within 45 days after police officers shoot someone, unless doing so would interfere with an ongoing investigation.
Gonzalez was critically wounded after he shot at officers and they returned fire.
He is accused of killing business owner Luis Tovar, 50; Tovar’s daughter Genevieve Raygoza, 28; longtime employee Leticia Solis Guzman, 58; and 9-year-old Matthew Farias.
Matthew’s mother, Blanca Tamayo, was wounded. She remains hospitalized and is in stable condition, Orange Police Lt. Jennifer Amat said Wednesday.
Police have said the gunman and victims were connected through business and personal ties, but a possible motive for the shooting has not been released.
In a phone interview, Spitzer said he learned Tuesday that police were planning to release the footage and drafted the letter requesting they hold off.
He hadn’t yet sent the letter when he heard about the news conference, so he texted Kisela, he said.
Spitzer said he also would prefer to brief the victims’ families before the footage is made public. He has extended an invitation for them to meet with prosecutors, but they have not felt ready, he said.
“For them to have to turn on the TV and see these videos without being able to meet with them first and prepare them would be outrageous and insensitive,” Spitzer said.
He said he understood that police were trying to comply with state law and that he should have “intervened earlier.”
Amat, the police spokeswoman, said the footage would be released eventually but did not offer specifics.
“As you know, justice for the victims and their families is our top priority,” she said.
Prosecutors have charged Gonzalez with four counts of special circumstances murder, one count of attempted murder and two counts of attempted murder of a peace officer.
The 44-year-old suspect remains hospitalized and unable to communicate with his defense attorneys, which has forced his arraignment to be delayed for more than two weeks.
Authorities allege Gonzalez entered an office building on West Lincoln Avenue where Unified Homes, a real estate and manufactured home business, is located, opening fire around 5:30 p.m. on March 31.
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