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California

Lawyer for immigrant accused of killing California police officer wants mental evaluation sealed

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Gustavo Perez Arriaga is charged with murder in the shooting death of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh in December.
(Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department)

The attorney for a man in the U.S. illegally and charged in the killing of a California police officer has asked a judge to seal a mental health evaluation report on his client because he says it could be incriminating.

Gustavo Perez Arriaga’s defense attorney, Stephen Foley, last month questioned his client’s mental fitness and asked for an evaluation.

Foley told the judge Thursday that he has spent time with his client since the Jan. 2 hearing and now believes Mendoza is mentally fit to stand trial.

According to the Modesto Bee, Foley argued that the evaluation violated his client’s right to refuse to answer questions that could be incriminating.

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The judge the sides to return to court April 8.

Perez Arriaga, 32, was arrested in late December following the shooting death of Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh.

Police think Perez Arriaga was driving drunk when Singh stopped him in the early morning hours of Dec. 26.

Singh had received a tip about an intoxicated man in a silver pickup. A short time later, Singh radioed that he was pulling over a vehicle.

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Minutes later, he radioed, “Shots fired!” Officers who responded found Singh wounded and the driver he stopped had fled. Singh was taken to a hospital, where he died.

His was the first death in the line of duty for the Newman Police Department.

Authorities say Perez Arriaga was fleeing back to his native Mexico when he was arrested two days after Singh’s killing.

The case rekindled a debate over California’s so-called sanctuary law that limits cooperation by local authorities with federal immigration authorities.

Times staff writer Brittny Mejia contributed to this report.


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