Southern California

San Bernardino Officer Hurt in Gun Battle Returns Home

Officer Gabriel Garcia spends up to eight hours each day in therapy, but remains optimistic about his recovery

A Southern California police officer critically wounded during a gun battle last August has finally gone home.

San Bernardino Police Officer Gabriel Garcia left a Pomona rehabilitation facility last week and has moved into his parents' home, San Bernardino Police Lt. Richard Lawhead said Tuesday.

Garcia suffered a single shot to the head after he and a rookie officer approached a group of people in a San Bernardino neighborhood on Aug. 22.

At one point, the officer was placed in a medically induced coma. By December, Garcia had begun moving and speaking again. Doctors expected it would take six months to a year to fully measure his recovery.

"He’s walking with help, and is working on speech and therapy but still has a long road to recovery," Lawhead said.

Garcia spends six to eight hours day in therapy, Lawhead said. Garcia’s colleagues are optimistic about his recovery but expect it to take some time.

"If he can fully recover, yes, he would return to duty if he was capable of performing all the duties necessary," Lawhead said.

But for now, Garcia is happy to be at least partly out of rehab.

"You can see the smile on his face. He was very excited to be in his own home space," Lawhead said.

San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan tweeted photos of Garcia as he went home.

"Officer Garcia was able to go home with family," Burguan said in the tweet. "Therapy continues but his progress is great."

Garcia's unidentified partner fatally shot Alex Alvarado, 38, the man police believe opened fire on Garcia. Three other men charged in the case, Jonathan Contreras, 20; Orlando Cruz, 24; and Gonzalo Medina, 22, may face life in prison if convicted of two counts of attempted murder on a police officer and possession of an assault rifle.

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