Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators have backed off their initial statements that a driver accidentally plowed his vehicle into 25 law enforcement cadets, but after arresting the man on suspicion of attempted murder of peace officers they released him from custody, saying they need more time to make their case, the Los Angeles Times reports. Jail records show that the initial arrest of Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was deemed a detention, which meant he could not be held more than 48 hours without presenting the case to prosecutors, a Sheriff's Department spokesman said.
Earlier Thursday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in an interview with NewsNation that investigators “have developed probable cause to believe it was intentional.” “They went through an exhaustive interview process with everyone involved, with the video surveillance, the statements from the recruits, the physical evidence they have and what they got from the suspect himself, and they were able to form the opinion this was a deliberate act,” he told the news station. The law enforcement recruits were running in formation when a vehicle approached the wrong way on the road and plowed into them. Villanueva said seven recruits were still in the hospital Thursday night. Five were in observation, and two remained in critical condition. One underwent surgery for extensive leg fractures. Gutierrez was detained at the scene by cadets and was arrested after he was treated for minor injuries. He tested negative for alcohol but sources said marijuana was found in the car. Gutierrez's attorney, Alexandra Kazarian, told KABC, “I have no doubt that an in-depth investigation will confirm that Nicholas is a hard working young man who holds no animosity towards law enforcement, and this was an absolutely tragic accident.”