NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KTVU) - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Thursday that the suspect who was fatally shot after he tried to kill a Napa County sheriff's deputy Sunday night had been deported from the U.S. three times since 2007.
ICE also suggests Napa corrections officials risked public safety by not turning Javier Hernandez-Morales over to them, despite several requests. Hernandez-Morales, 43, fired a .22 revolver at Deputy Riley Jarecki as she stood by the driver's window of Hernandez-Morales' Honda sedan that was parked on a rural road in Napa County southwest of Napa around 11 p.m.
"We owe it to everyone to make sure we understand the facts of this situation," said Napa County Supervisor Afredo Pedroza, a Napa native who has also served on the Napa City Council. "We're in the verification phase of looking at the claims ICE made to really understand the facts about this unfortunate situation."
Jarecki, who was sworn in as a deputy in June 2018, was not hit. She ran to the other side of the Honda and shot her weapon 15 times into the vehicle. Hernandez-Morales died at the scene. The deadly confrontation was recorded on Jarecki's body camera.
According to the Napa County Sheriff's Office, Hernandez-Morales intended to kill the deputy, who is now on administrative leave.
In its statement, ICE said it issued detainers four separate times for Hernandez-Morales after his arrests for DUI, battery on a peace officer, selling liquor to a minor and probation violations. None of the four detainers were honored by the Napa and Sonoma county jails.
ICE officials said detainers were issued to the Napa County Jail in 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as in 2016 to the Sonoma County Jail. Morales was removed from the U.S. twice in 2007 and once in 2010. The agency calls the shootout "an impactful, scary example of how public safety is affected by laws or policies" that curb participation with ICE.
According to ICE, the confrontation may have been prevented if it was notified about Hernandez-Morales' release from custody over the past few years.
"I think regardless of your side on this issue, folks can agree we want to have safe communities for everyone," saidPedroza, who noted Napa did turn Hernandez over to ICE in one instance, in 2010.
Napa County issued its own statement in response to the ICE criticism.
It reads, in part, "We will not compromise the ongoing law enforcement investigation by speculating on the statements or questions raised in today's press release."
The statement also point out that Javier Hernandez-Morales used multiple names and birthdates, which may factored into how he was processed at the jail. Supervisor Pedroza points out, inmates may also be released before ICE agents are able to arrive.
"This is four, six years ago, and we need to look at our record-keeping and give everyone an answer, and we are committed to doing that, it just takes some time," said Pedroza.
At a Wednesday news briefing detailing the shooting and sharing the deputy's body-worn camera video, authorities described the gunman's criminal history as significant.
"He has previous arrests for weapons violations, assault on a peace officer, driving under the influence, things of that nature," said Napa Undersheriff Jon Crawford. "And Hernandez-Morales made the choice to try to murder Deputy Jarecki."
Hernandez-Morales worked as a farm laborer in the area and he had prior arrests for DUI, resisting arrest and possession of a firearm. There was a warrant for his arrest at the time of the shooting, Ortiz said.
In years past, local jurisdictions had wide discretion on working with ICE, but SB-54, the state Sanctuary Law, limits the circumstances in which ICE can be notified and detainees questioned.
Generally, an arrest warrant or court order is required, or the subject must have felony criminal convictions.
But during the period of Hernandez's arrests, the law was not in effect.
"In the past Napa County has cooperated and in certain cases, has not cooperated with ICE," said Pedroza.
Napa County's economy depends on a skilled agricultural workforce and elected leaders say they take pride in a welcoming an inclusive community- that supports immigrants- and law enforcement.
"I will say this, Deputy Jarecki's heroism that night was remarkable, and she deserves a lot of credit for keeping our community safe and that took a lot of courage on her part," said Pedroza.
Bay City News contributed to this report.