Guadalupe pays $4 million to settle wrongful death lawsuit

June 2, 2023

Juan Luis Olvera Preciado (left)


The Guadalupe City Council has agreed to pay $4 million to the family of a man who was shot and killed last year by a police officer who was aiming at another person.

On the night of Aug. 21, 2021, Guadalupe officers recognized a man at the intersection of Birch and Obispo streets as a gang member with an outstanding no-bail felony arrest warrant. Officer Miguel Jaimes fired at the wanted suspect, but instead hit 59-year-old Juan Luis Olvera-Preciado, who was sitting in his car in front of his home.  Olvera-Preciado died at the scene.

Jaimes fired three rounds at the suspect, whom he incorrectly believed was armed, missing each time, according to a report released by the state Department of Justice. The suspect pulled a butane torch out of his pocket that officers mistook for a gun

One bullet ricocheted off the ground, traveled 174 feet, entered a slightly ajar car door, struck Olvera-Preciado’s face and lodged in his brain, according to the DOJ report. At the time of the shooting, Olvera-Preciado was planning to go out to dinner with his wife, who had not yet stepped into the car.

Olvera-Preciado’s family alleged the shooting was careless, senseless and unjustified, in a wrongful death suit they filed in federal court. Following mediation, the city and the family announced they had agreed to settle the lawsuit.

In Jan. 2023, prosecutors elected not to charge Jaimes for the death based on a DOJ

investigation into the shooting.

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While there is plenty of understandable focus and criticism directed at the Guadalupe police officer and his department, I’ve not heard a single expression of similar disdain directed at the gang member with the felony arrest warrant who was at the center of this tragic incident. In fact, despite searching several sources, I’ve found no media report of the suspects name, what gang he was affiliated with or what his felony arrest warrant was for. Certainly, he tangentially bears a fair degree of responsibility for the death of Mr. Olvera-Preciado. The community should hold and express as much disdain for him and his unconstrained criminal behavior as they are rightfully clamoring for police to have better training and be held to high standards without qualified immunity.

I remember this murder. Officer Miguel Jaimes fired three times at a fugitive who was holding a butane lighter. Reportedly Jaimes had about 15 minutes to consider his decision to shoot at the fugitive, so Guadalupe’s claim of a “rapidly evolving situation that did not afford practical time for deliberation” is obviously an exaggeration at best. All three shots missed. He was either too far away or too poor a shot or both, and if properly trained, he should have known he could not hit the fugitive. One of his three errant shots killed Mr. Preciado who was sitting in his car beyond.

This event makes me furious. Why do agencies and supervisors send poorly trained John McClane and Barney Fife types into the world with bullets? Why do they shoot at what was a fugitive that was no immediate threat, and was probably trying to get away? Was he going to harm someone with a butane lighter? Stories like this are repeated daily across the nation and seem to be getting more prevalent.

At some point we (the public who pays with money and lives) must act. We must require much more training for officers. Instead of the weeks of training they get, they should have years of training like the person who cuts their hair. That training must be more than how to use force and write self-beneficial reports. It must include training about the constitution and law, recognition of medical issues (mental and physical) and how to deal with them, and how to treat their bosses (the public). I am certain there are many other issues which require training. Secondly, we must end “qualified immunity”. It is a legal concept which makes police think they can do anything they want with impunity. So they do.

Maybe Mr. Carbajal, our U.S. Congressman could start things off by introducing a bill to end qualified immunity. Colorado has already done it, so it must be something achievable.

Not enough.

Another example of gun culture gone crazy, and police officers act as if they are playing video games when they shoot, not appreciating the reality of the situation until it’s too late.

Another LEO gets away with a crime and the taxpayers pay the costs