Prosecutors have determined that a Waukegan police officer was justified in fatally shooting a man who allegedly tried to hit him with a vehicle earlier this year in the north suburb.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim ruled that the officer acted “reasonably and appropriately” in the fatal shooting of Asuncion J. Gomez-Guerrero on Feb. 3, according to a statement issued Thursday by the state’s attorney’s office.
Officers were called about 2:30 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for reports of an “unknown problem” at a home in the 3500 block of Windhaven Drive, prosecutors and Waukegan police said. A responding officer arrived to find Gomez-Guerrero apparently trying to leave in a gray Honda with an 18-year-old woman in the passenger seat.
The officer parked his marked squad car and approached the Honda on foot, ordering Gomez-Guerrero to stop, the state’s attorney’s office said. Gomez-Guerrero put the car into reverse, prompting the officer to put his hand on the hood and tell him to turn the car off. Gomez-Guerrero instead put the car in drive and turned the wheel toward the officer.
The car moved forward and the front bumper hit the officer’s left leg, prosecutors said. The officer backed up, drew his gun and fired three shots through the windshield when Gomez-Guerrero ignored orders to stop and continued to drive forward.
The Honda continued to drive away until it hit a telephone pole a block away, police said.
Gomez-Guerrero, 35, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Lake County coroner’s office. An autopsy found he died of gunshot wounds.
Further investigation revealed he had a blood alcohol level of 0.182 and traces of THC in his system, prosecutors said.
The 18-year-old woman who was a passenger in the vehicle suffered minor injuries in the crash and was also taken to a hospital, police said.
The officer, a 20-year veteran, was also taken to a hospital for a “precautionary checkup” and was placed on paid administrative leave, police said.
“This event illustrates how a seemingly innocent police task can suddenly become a deadly confrontation,” Nerheim said in the statement. “I would like to express my condolences to the family of Asuncion J. Gomez-Guerrero.”