La Habra, CA – Bodycam footage captured the moment when a meth-fueled gunman abruptly shot a La Habra police officer in the chest without warning last year (video below).
The footage was released by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office on Monday, after prosecutors determined there was “no evidence of criminal culpability” regarding the officer who ultimately shot the suspect, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The harrowing encounter began at approximately 6:25 p.m. on Aug. 6, 2021, when a woman noticed a blue 1998 Toyota Camry tailgating her on the northbound 5 Freeway, according to police.
The woman said that every time she changed lanes, the vehicle followed her, the Los Angeles Times reported.
When it proceeded to pull onto the 57 Freeway behind her, the woman called and texted her mother and a friend before dialing 911 at 7:03 p.m., according to police.
She told the dispatcher she was scared she was being followed and that she was going to drive to the La Habra Police Department (LHPD) on Euclid Street for help, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The woman stayed on the phone with the 911 dispatcher when she pulled up to the police station, according to police.
Meanwhile, the driver of the Toyota Camry parked his vehicle behind hers, got out of the car, and tried to open the locked front doors of the building, KTLA reported.
He was later identified as 22-year-old Matthew-Tuan Anh Tran, according to the Los Angeles Times.
LHPD Officer Mark Milward and Officer Abigail Fox made contact with Tran outside the station moments later.
While Officer Fox spoke with the woman, Officer Milward approached Tran, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Bodycam footage showed the officer speaking with Tran inside the covered walkway outside the building’s front doors.
Officer Milward greeted him and asked him what was going on, at which point Tran told him he was just trying to see somebody.
The officer asked Tran if he had anything to do with the vehicles parked beside where they were standing, and the suspect claimed he did not, the video showed.
Officer Milward told Tran he would be back with him in a moment and proceeded to turn his back to the suspect to walk back towards Officer Fox and the woman who was still sitting in her car.
“Hey! Hey! Hey!” Officer Fox suddenly yelled.
Officer Milward turned back towards Tran just in time to see him firing a gun directly at him, the video showed.
The blast knocked the unsuspecting officer to the ground.
The shooting was also captured by a nearby security camera, which showed Tran pulling the gun out of his waistband as Officer Milward turned away from him.
Although Officer Milward was unaware of the impending threat, Officer Fox saw the gunman coming and was able to return fire, ending the attack, the Los Angeles Times reported.
She fired five rounds at Tran, hitting him in the head, the right thigh, and his body, according to prosecutors.
The gunman was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:26 p.m.
An autopsy revealed Tran had methamphetamine, THC, and other substances in his blood at the time of the shooting, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Investigators said the weapon he used to shoot Officer Milward was a “ghost gun” described as a fabricated Glock-style 9mm semiautomatic handgun that had no serial number, according to KTLA.
Officer Milward was rushed to a local hospital, where it was discovered the bullet fired by Tran had pierced the officer’s ballistic vest and hit him in his chest, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
The wounded hero remained hospitalized for a week before being released to continue his recovery at home, KABC reported.
The district attorney concluded on Nov. 18 that Officer Fox was justified in using deadly force to protect her partner from the gunman.
“Officer Fox did not have time to de-escalate the situation or use less-lethal force because Tran was already firing at Officer Milward,” the prosecutor’s office told LHPD Chief Adam Foster in a letter notifying him about the decision, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“There is substantial evidence that her actions were reasonable and justified under the circumstances,” the letter read.
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content: