D.A.'s office clears officer in shooting

A Costa Mesa police officer was justified when he fired shots into a pickup truck that crashed into his squad car, apparently intentionally, two years ago, the Orange County district attorney's office concluded this week.

In a letter addressed to Costa Mesa Police Chief Tom Gazsi released Wednesday, investigators said officer Dana Potts' actions were reasonable, considering the circumstances.

On the morning of July 5, 2012, Potts found two men sitting in a stolen truck in the parking lot of the New Harbor Inn on Harbor Blvd, police said at the time.

They said the truck backed up and then twice rammed the patrol car.

After Potts fired several shots at the truck, Vincent Leon, the driver, jumped from the cab and ran, according to police. A passenger surrendered.

Police arrested Leon about a week later when officers spotted him in Costa Mesa and chased him on foot.

Leon now faces three felony charges stemming from the incident: assault with a weapon on a peace officer and two theft-related counts.

Because of the pending criminal case, prosecutors released few details of their investigation beyond noting the clearing Potts and saying Leon survived an injury from the shooting.

The Costa Mesa Police Department conducted its own investigation that included a review from command staff, the chief and the city attorney.

The "violent assault" on Potts was "unacceptable and disturbing," Gazsi said in a written statement. "The officer's response to the threat was deemed appropriate by the Costa Mesa Police Department and the district attorney's office.... We're pleased with the anticipated closure of this collaborative review."

Leon is being held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $320,000 bail. His trial is scheduled to begin in October, according to court records.

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