Why Driver Accused of Plowing Through Cadets Was Released from Jail

22-year-old Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez was released from jail on Thursday night, after he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder on a peace officer(s) when his SUV veered into a group of police recruits on a training exercise this week.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva (via ABC 7), the suspect was released at 9:49pm PT last night so investigators could build a stronger case for prosecutors. The Sheriff’s Department has 48 hours to present their case following an arrest and they simply weren’t ready yet.

“It’s not like they arrested the wrong suspect,” Deputy Deanna Mares told CNN. “They just want to make sure the investigation is going to be complete.”

“Due to the extreme complexity of the investigation, which includes ongoing interviews, video surveillance review, and additional evidence needed to be analyzed, homicide investigators have released Mr. Gutierrez from the Sheriff’s Department custody,” read a news release.

Added L.A. County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Sgt. Gerardo Magos: “The evidence is there. We just want to make sure it’s properly presented.”

In an interview with NewsNation on Thursday, Villanueva said investigators “developed probable cause to believe [the crash] was intentional.” So far, no details have been released as to why they believe it was an intentional act.

However, Gutierrez’s attorney, Alexandra Kazarian, told ABC 7 she had “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.”

On Wednesday, a group of approximately 75 recruits were on a jog as part of training in Whittier when a Honda CR-V going 30-40mph in the wrong direction drove right into them. The vehicle then struck a light pole, with the driver sustaining minor injuries before cadets detained him and he was taken to the hospital. Per Sheriff Alex Villanueva, a breathalyzer was administered at the scene, but Gutierrez blew a 0.0.

25 cadets were injured, with Villanueva initially saying 16 suffered minor injuries, four had moderate injuries and five were critically injured. One of them was placed on a ventilator, as Villanueva said there were “life-altering” injuries for several recruits.

On Thursday, Villanueva said seven victims were still in the hospital, two of whom were still in critical condition.

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