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Arraignment of alleged Burbank police officer shooter postponed

July 07, 2010|By Chloe Mayer and Jason Wells

The arraignment of a 30-year-old homeless man who allegedly shot two police officers last week in front of a Kmart was postponed today until July 22.

James Willard, who was scheduled to answer to two charges of attempted murder, made a brief appearance Wednesday in a Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom in Burbank, where he agreed to the later date. He remains in custody.

Authorities say Willard grabbed a gun on Friday during an arrest outside the Kmart on San Fernando Boulevard and shot Officer Alex Gutierrez shot several times in the chest, which was protected by a bullet proof vest. A ricocheted bullet fragment also hit his leg. He was recovering from surgery at home, city officials said.

The second officer, Derek Green, was recovering in the hospital after multiple surgeries for a gunshot wound to the hand.

Willard was reportedly stopped by Kmart security personnel for allegedly stealing DVDs, but when the police officers arrived to make the arrest, the incident turned violent.

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Burbank police Sgt. Robert Quesada said Willard had an outstanding arrest warrant in Oregon related to felony theft. Authorities say Willard somehow managed to reach around and grab one of the officer's handguns despite being handcuffed behind his back.

At the Burbank City Council meeting on Tuesday, Police Chief Scott LaChasse said the officers apparently loosened the cuffs after Willard complained that they were too tight, creating enough wiggle room to grab the gun and start firing.

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