The man accused of murdering Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer had his first court appearance Wednesday, where he entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder charge. Despite the Special Directives instituted by District Attorney George Gascon on the day he took office prohibiting the charging of special circumstances in first degree murder cases, Kevin Salazar was charged with three special circumstances: lying in wait, murdering a police officer, and shooting from a vehicle. Salazar was also charged with firearms enhancements. If convicted of a special circumstances murder, only two punishments are possible: life in prison without the possibility of parole, or the death penalty.
During the brief appearance, Salazar wore a bulletproof vest and was in full restraints.
It has also been confirmed in court documents that, as RedState first reported Monday, Salazar admitted to deputies during his arrest that he shot Clinkunbroomer, and that numerous firearms were retrieved from Salazar’s home after his arrest. Who owned the firearms and how they were obtained are big questions, since Salazar is a prohibited person, having been institutionalized with paranoid schizophrenia multiple times according to both his mother and law enforcement sources.
“My son is mentally ill, and if he did something, he wasn’t in his full mental capacity,” she said in an interview with The Times in Spanish.
“They’re only saying that he was the one that shot the deputy, but nobody is saying he has a record for needing mental help,” she said.
“I have called the police several times,” she said. “In the end, they would say, ‘He’s an adult, so if he doesn’t want to take [his medication], we can’t do anything.’”
Twice since his diagnosis, she said, he’s attempted suicide. “It’s not my son that did it, it’s the disease that did it,” she said. “They are putting all this out there that my son killed someone, but nobody is saying that my son is sick. He’s sick, and so many people talk about schizophrenia, but then nothing happens.”
She said her son had been hospitalized in Sylmar in the past year and seemed to be doing better. He stopped taking his medication about 10 months ago, but she said he appeared to be “calm,” so she and his family didn’t press it.
As reflected above, Salazar’s mother also said that he had attempted suicide twice, yet there were still guns in the home that she apparently didn’t know about based on her interview with the Los Angeles Times.
Gascon will be holding a press conference about the case at 3 PM Wednesday; we will report on his comments at that time.