A 34-year-old felon was sentenced Monday to more than 55 years to life in prison today for attempting to kill a Santa Ana police officer, who sustained a graze wound to the head in a gun battle with the defendant.
Carlos Michael Rodriguez of Santa Ana was convicted March 5 of one count each of attempted murder on a peace officer, assault with a semiautomatic rifle and possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of possession of drugs with the intent to sell. Jurors also found true sentencing enhancements for firing a gun.
Rodriguez's total punishment is 55 years and four months to life behind bars.
"By way of this sentencing the message is clear," Santa Ana Police Department Chief David Valentin said. "As a community we cannot tolerate continued violence against anyone, especially violent acts committed against our uniformed police officers."
Officers approached Rodriguez about 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 17, 2016, during a patrol of a gang-infested neighborhood in the 2700 block of West McFadden Avenue. Rodriguez, who had prison tattoos on his neck, was walking a bicycle, but when officers approached to question him, he dropped the bike and took off running, according to testimony at the defendant's preliminary hearing.
When an officer caught up to the defendant, he saw Rodriguez pointing a gun at him, according to testimony. The officer ducked, was grazed in the head, and returned fire, hitting Rodriguez in the arm.
As Rodriguez was writhing on the ground, the officer was concerned the suspect may be reaching for his gun so the officer fired on Rodriguez a few more times, according to the preliminary hearing testimony.
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Rodriguez has a 2008 conviction for assault with a semiautomatic rifle on a peace officer and resisting arrest, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. In that case, he was a passenger in a car pulled over by police and ran off during the traffic stop, defense attorney Benjamin Russell said in court papers.
Rodriguez had a gun on him, but it was not loaded, Russell said.
Rodriguez was sentenced to eight years in prison after reaching a plea bargain in the case, according to Russell.