Slain Suspect Had Fear of Deportation


The family of a Los Angeles man shot and killed early Saturday by California Highway Patrol officers said fear of being deported may have led the 25-year-old El Salvador native to flee when police tried to pull him over for running a stoplight.

Jose Daniel Gonzalez, 25, was shot multiple times by CHP officers who had cornered him on a dead-end street in North Tustin after Gonzalez led them on an hourlong high-speed chase that began not far from his home in South Central Los Angeles.

On Sunday, his distraught mother and other family members demanded an explanation.

“Six officers came to my house Saturday morning and asked questions about my son,” Alba Liliana Gonzalez said in a telephone interview from her Los Angeles home. “They asked a lot of questions, but when I asked them for information, the only thing they told me was that he was shot because he tried to [hurt] a police officer.”


Gonzalez, known as Daniel to family and friends, was driving his girlfriend’s car shortly before 5 a.m. when Los Angeles Police Department officers tried to pull him over for the traffic violation. The pursuit was turned over to the CHP when Gonzalez got on the Long Beach Freeway and headed south.

Alba Gonzalez said her son had been ordered deported last year after serving a year in Los Angeles County Jail for a drug conviction.

Instead of being turned over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service after serving his sentence May 11, Daniel Gonzalez was mistakenly allowed back on the street, she said.

“He knew there had been a mistake made in the computer, and he lived in fear of being deported,” she said. “He told me that he feared going back to jail because he would be deported for sure. He was doing everything he could to live a clean life inside the law.”

Alba Gonzalez’s oldest son, Pedro, is serving a 12-year sentence for theft in an El Salvador jail.

After a history of gang activity and various drug and robbery convictions, he was deported by U.S. officials and flown to his native country on the condition that he never return to the United States. The Gonzalez family was featured in a November Los Angeles Times Magazine piece on the deportation of thousands of convicts to El Salvador over the past six years.


The death Saturday of her younger son came 15 years after the two boys, then 10 and 13 years old, made their way from their Central American mountain village to Los Angeles to find their mother.

Officials from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department on Sunday gave few details about the predawn shooting on upscale La Loma Street.

Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino said Gonzalez first had been stopped on another North Tustin street, where he used his car to strike a CHP vehicle, injuring an officer.

“I believe the pursuit continued, then went to the second street, which was a dead-end street, and he attempted again to assault with his vehicle,” Amormino said. “I don’t know myself how many shots were fired, but it was numerous times. That’s all part of the investigation.”

Gonzalez did not have a gun, Amormino said, but used his car as a weapon. The officer who was injured in his car was treated Saturday at a hospital and released, officials said.

Coroner’s officials would not release details of the autopsy on Gonzalez, which was conducted Sunday morning, saying it was part of an ongoing investigation.



Gonzalez’s mother said the officers who came to her home refused to tell her how many times her son was shot or where his body was. Several hours and numerous telephone calls later, the family learned that Gonzalez was taken to the Orange County coroner’s office, she said.

“The officer translating for the detective who was asking the questions tried to get more information for me by relaying my questions,” she said, “but the detective said he had already told me more than I needed to know. I was treated badly.”

CHP spokeswoman Denise Medina said all officers get extensive firearms instruction and must pass tests on shooting and policy every quarter. Medina described CHP shooting policy as “conservative.”

Officers have been “trained to use the proper and necessary force to stop the threat any time an officer perceives a threat against his life or the life of another,” she said.

Contributing to this report were Times Central America bureau chief Juanita Darling and Times correspondent Ana Cholo-Tipton.