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California police fire at suspect, 'tragically' kill bystander instead

The shooting was referred to state prosecutors because of recently enacted law enforcement reforms.

A California police officer who opened fire on a suspect with an outstanding warrant “tragically” struck and killed an innocent bystander instead, authorities said Sunday.

The shooting, which state prosecutors are investigating because of recent law enforcement reforms, occurred Saturday night in Guadalupe, a small coastal city about three hours north of Los Angeles, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Neither the suspect nor the officer, a member of the Guadalupe Police Department, was immediately identified.

The sheriff’s office said Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado, 59, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 10 p.m. local time.

The sheriff’s office, which is assisting in the investigation, did not immediately provide details about what prompted the shooting. It said more information would be released pending an investigation.

The statement said officers saw the suspect, who was wanted on a no-bail felony arrest warrant, a block east of Guadalupe’s main thoroughfare.

One of the officers fired at the suspect but struck Olvera-Preciado, who was sitting in his car nearby. The statement said he was “uninvolved” in the encounter and died “tragically.”

The sheriff’s office did not say what charges the suspect faces. The person surrendered at the scene, and no one else was injured, the statement said.

The shooting was referred to the attorney general’s office under a new law that requires prosecutors to investigate deadly uses of force against unarmed civilians.

When he announced the legislation last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom described it as one of a series of new state laws to reform law enforcement practices that police accountability activists criticized after George Floyd’s murder last year.