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Man who shot at Napa County deputy had been deported three times, authorities say

An unidentified Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation officer. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

A man who opened fire on a Napa County sheriff’s deputy standing outside his car window during a traffic stop was in the U.S. illegally and had been deported three times, authorities said.

Javier Hernandez-Morales, who was killed Sunday in an exchange of gunfire, had been arrested several times since his last removal to Mexico in 2010, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since then, federal immigration authorities said, they issued four detainers in Napa and Sonoma counties, but none were honored by the jails.

“It’s unfortunate that our law enforcement partners and the community are subjected to dangerous consequences because of inflexible state laws that protect criminal aliens,” ICE spokesman Richard Rocha said in a statement.

The incident, Rocha said, could have been prevented had ICE been kept in the loop about Hernandez-Morales’ releases from jail. “This is an impactful, scary example of how public safety is affected by laws or policies limiting local law enforcement agencies’ ability to cooperate with ICE,” he said.

The Napa County Sheriff’s Office released a 48-second video that captured the encounter.

It shows a female deputy, identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Riley Jarecki, on the passenger side of Hernandez-Morales’ car shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday asking if she could look around. The man threw up his hands, a gesture that suggested she could proceed.

“Wait right there, don’t move, OK?” Jarecki says. She shines her flashlight in the car before walking around to the driver’s side.

There, she knocks on the window and asks him three times to roll it down.

He does. Moments later, Hernandez-Morales pulls out a gun and, in close range, opens fire on the deputy.

Jarecki calls for help while running to the other side of the car, where she shot back at him. She was not injured.

Hernandez-Morales died at the scene.

ICE said he was deported twice in 2007 and once in 2010. Since then, the agency said, Hernandez-Morales had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, battery on a peace officer, selling liquor to a minor and probation violations.

ICE said it issued three detainers in Napa County — in 2014, 2015 and 2016 — and one in Sonoma County in 2016.

Hernandez-Morales’ brushes with the law occurred before Senate Bill 54, the state’s so-called sanctuary law, took effect in January of last year. The law prohibits state and local police agencies from notifying federal officials in many cases when immigrants potentially subject to deportation are about to be released from custody.

Shootings such as the one Sunday night have stirred the debate over illegal immigration and have been cited by President Trump as a reason to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexico border. In December, a man who was in the country illegally and had known gang ties was arrested in the fatal shooting of a police officer during a traffic stop in Stanislaus County.


© 2019 the Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.