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Testimony conveys chaos at Kmart

Court hearing details shooting of two officers during arrest of alleged shoplifter.

August 23, 2011|By Maria Hsin,

The man accused of using a Burbank officer's gun against him and his partner during a scuffle at a Kmart last year was double-handcuffed because of his size and to allow for greater range of motion, according to testimony Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Jamie Willard — the man accused of shooting at two Burbank police officers after he was able to wrangle one of the guns while under arrest at Kmart for an alleged shoplifting — required two connected handcuffs because his 6-foot-tall, 220-pound frame was too large for a single cuff, one of the officers testified during the preliminary hearing.

Burbank Police Officer Alex Gutierrez was shot repeatedly in the chest, but was protected by his bulletproof vest. Officer Derek Green, a seven-year veteran, was shot in the hand and suffered a leg injury.


Willard, 31, faces two counts of attempted murder and other charges and has remained in custody in lieu of $1-million bail. Witnesses to the shooting and preceding struggle took the stand this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court in Pasadena. A judge is expected to rule in the coming days whether there's enough evidence to proceed to jury trial.

According to courtroom testimony, Willard allegedly stole CDs, DVDs and other items from the Kmart on San Fernando Road on July 2, 2010, and store employees were waiting on police to take him into custody.

The store's loss prevention officer, Jose Castillo, testified that Willard was seen on the store's surveillance cameras putting items into a bag and ice cooler.

Castillo asked three other employees, including cashier Kevin Rivera, to assist in confronting Willard before he exited the store.

Willard was eventually detained by the store's loss prevention employees after a scuffle that required all four employees to control him, Castillo said in court Monday.

Castillo added that they were in the loss prevention office awaiting police when Willard began to complain that his handcuffs were too tight.

“I looked and they were definitely swollen, yes,” Castillo said when public defender John Love asked if he had seen Willard's wrists.

“I felt bad, so I removed both sets of handcuffs,” Castillo added.

That's when Willard grabbed a fire extinguisher that was on the floor near a door and swung it at Castillo, he testified.

“I don't think he knew where he wanted to hit; he just wanted to hit me,” Castillo said.

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