|For Immediate Release
Case # 08ZF0035
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
SHERIFF’S DEPUTY INDICTED ON CHARGES OF UNLAWFULLY TASING HANDCUFFED SUSPECT
IN BACK OF PATROL CAR
SANTA ANA – An indictment was unsealed this morning against an Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) deputy for abusing his position of authority and unlawfully tasing a handcuffed suspect in the back of a patrol car. Christopher Hibbs, 45, Corona, is charged with one felony count of assault or battery by a public officer and one felony count of assault with a taser. He faces a maximum sentence of three years in state prison if convicted. Hibbs is scheduled for continued arraignment Oct. 10, 2008, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-4, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on Sep. 13, 2007, Hibbs, a 14-year veteran of the OCSD, was in the passenger seat of a patrol car and an OCSD deputy trainee was driving. The two deputies noticed a suspicious person wearing a trench coat walking eastbound on Ball Road toward Brookhurst Street with an open beer bottle. When the trainee pulled the car over, Hibbs is accused of getting out and making contact with 31-year-old Ignacio Gomez Lares of Santa Ana. Hibbs asked Lares if he could search him for weapons. Lares refused, briefly struggled with Hibbs before knocking him to the ground, and left his trench coat behind as he fled the scene on foot.
Hibbs and the trainee chased Lares on foot. An off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer (LAPD), who witnessed the struggle between Hibbs and Lares from a nearby parking lot, joined the foot pursuit. Lares was apprehended approximately 250 feet from the patrol car. Hibbs lawfully tased Lares, who was resisting. Lares was handcuffed with his hands behind his back and walked by all three officers back to the OCSD patrol car, where he was placed in the back of the car.
After assisting with securing Lares in the car, the LAPD officer left. Hibbs and the trainee located a loaded firearm in the trench coat that Lares had left behind during the chase. Once the firearm had been located, Hibbs is accused of asking Lares for his name and date of birth. Lares provided his correct date of birth and the name “Ignacio Gomez.” When a search of the provided name and date of birth resulted in no matches, Hibbs is accused of again asking Lares for his correct identifying information. After several unsuccessful demands, Hibbs is accused of taking his OCSD issued taser, which he had used earlier to subdue Lares, and asking one last time for Lares’ name. When Lares replied “Ignacio Gomez,” Hibbs is accused of unlawfully tasing him. Lares, who was still handcuffed behind his back and sitting in the back of the patrol car, was not struggling or resisting at the time that he was tased.
Shortly thereafter, an OCSD Sergeant arrived and Lares complained to him of trouble breathing and shortness of breath. Paramedics were contacted and responded to the scene, where they examined and medically cleared Lares. Lares was transported to the Orange County jail and booked.
On Sept. 21, 2007, Lares pleaded guilty (Case #07NF3298) to one felony count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one felony count of possessing a loaded firearm in public, and one misdemeanor count of falsely identifying himself to a peace officer. He was sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison.
In December 2007, Hibbs requested to be reassigned to a new city.