Street racing is dangerous. Apparently it’s dangerous not just because of the high speeds either. Recently, a 14-year-old girl was shot by a California Highway Patrol officer during a street racing bust.
Reports in the Bakersfield Californian state that CHP officers David Mata and Jose Magdaleno were patrolling out of the Buttonwillow station when a call came in at about 12:30 a.m. reporting that street racing was going on along Malaga and Muller Rd. near the tiny Kern County town of Edison. The officers stopped one car on the scene and as they talked with its occupants, a car allegedly driven by Alberto Gayton Lopez, 21, supposedly accelerated toward them.
Officer Mata then allegedly fired one shot into the car through the closed passenger side window from only about 6 feet away, which is considered basically point blank. There was only one person hit, a 14-year-old girl riding in the car’s passenger seat, identified only as "Jennifer". She was hit by the bullet right about the point where her right side collarbone meets the sternum. Instead of stopping after the officers had shot Jennifer, Gayton reportedly did the one thing that saved this girl’s life, he drove directly to San Joaquin Community Hospital.
He luckily got her to the hospital in time for them to stabilize her. While Jennifer’s injury was not life-threatening, once she was in stable condition, she was sent home with instructions to stay home from school for a week and take antibiotics.
"The bullet came out her left chest close to her armpit," said attorney Daniel Rodriguez, representing the girl. "The bullet missed her windpipe, top of lung and arteries by inches. She could have been easily killed."
Rodriguez told the Bakersfield Californian that he plans on filing a claim against the CHP within the next few weeks alleging that Officer Mata used excessive force and will take the agency to court if the claim is denied. Officers Mata and Magdaleno are in suspicion of guilt merely on the fact that the CHP itself wasn’t informed of the events by the two, but by the hospital that was caring for Jennifer. Department regulations require that any time an officer discharges his service weapon, even if accidentally, that it be reported immediately.
There are allegations that the officers didn’t preserve the shooting scene as regulations and the law required. All this adds up to an "internal investigation" by the CHP and both officers presently being demoted to desk jobs pending further investigation. Both officers face serious charges if convicted and even some heavy jail time. If this isn’t an example of how street racing is dangerous, than I don’t know what is.