Officer cleared in H.B. shooting death

The Orange County district attorney's office determined Thursday that the fatal shooting last year of a 26-year-old by a Huntington Beach police officer was justified.

Prosecutors cleared Officer Jason Heilman in the death Aug. 3 of Eric Marquez of Orange near Glencoe Drive and Silver Lane in Huntington Beach, according to an official letter released by the district attorney's office.

The letter outlines the circumstances as follows:

Heilman was driving on Silver toward Glencoe about 7:45 a.m. when he saw two Latino men walking away from a pickup truck parked on Glencoe. One was later identified as Marquez. The second man has not been identified.

The officer approached the men after noticing that the truck's right taillight was broken and covered with tape.

Marquez told Heilman that they were visiting family on Glencoe.

Heilman suspected that Marquez was a gang member and questioned him about his background. Marquez responded that he was not on parole and that he was from Venice.

The two men were told to sit on the curb as Heilman prepared to use his radio, but the officer was distracted when he saw that a black coat concealed Marquez's hands. The officer moved his right hand near his gun and told Marquez to show his hands.

Marquez stood and ran east on Glencoe. Heilman pursued.

Marquez was reportedly "fiddling" with something in his jacket as the officer told him to get on the ground. He did not follow orders and, according to the letter, turned around, took a "shooting stance" and held up an object covered by a handkerchief.

The item was later determined to be a handgun, specifically a Ruger Security Six revolver. Heilman told prosecutors that gang members tend to place their guns in socks or handkerchiefs.

The officer began to take several shots at Marquez and was not sure if he had hit him. He said the man did not act as if he had been shot and continued running east on Glencoe.

Marquez was able to fire a few shots at Heilman, who returned fire, according to the letter.

Marquez then started running west toward his parked truck and onto Silver Lane. With his hands up, the other man approached the officer and asked him to stop. Heilman told him to "get out of the way" and used his radio to broadcast that shots had been fired.

While standing in the middle of Silver, Marquez reportedly raised his gun with both hands and aimed at the officer. The suspect shot at Heilman, after which the officer returned fire while running across the street to a truck for cover.

Heilman heard Marquez shout "ouch" and saw blood, according to the letter.

After hearing another shot from Marquez's gun, Heilman peeked around the truck, aimed and fired eight to 10 shots at the suspect, who fell to the ground and remained motionless, according to the letter.

Heilman could not locate the second suspect.

Orange County Crime Lab officials and forensic specialists arrived at the scene about 10:30 a.m. They found numerous bullet casings on Glencoe and Silver as well as bullet holes and impact points in various homes, vehicles, windows and gates around the area.

On Aug. 7, the Orange County coroner's office conducted an autopsy on the body and ruled that Marquez died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Toxicology reports showed that Marquez had traces of amphetamine and methamphetamine in his system.

While examining both parties' weapons, investigators discovered that Marquez's revolver was faulty. The trigger spring was broken, which required manual resetting to fire another shot.

Of the six fully loaded revolver chambers, only three rounds were fired. The other chambers still contained unfired cartridges, the letter said.

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