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Man convicted in 2018 killing of Calif. officer sentenced to life without parole

Officer Gregory Casillas died after being shot in the head while pursuing Isaias De Jesus Valencia; he had been on the job for only six months prior to the incident


L.A. County sheriff’s deputies escort Isaias De Jesus Valencia, suspected of fatally shooting a Pomona police officer, to a waiting car Saturday.

Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times/TNS

By Caroline Petrow-Cohen
Los Angeles Times

POMONA, Calif. — A Pomona man who shot and killed a police officer in 2018 while barricaded behind a door was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the office of Superior Court Judge Mike Camacho.

Isaias De Jesus Valencia, 45, was found guilty in May of first-degree murder and several counts of attempted murder, court records show. On top of a life sentence, Camacho gave Valencia a separate sentence of 278 years to life.

In March 2018, two Pomona Police Department officers responded to reports of reckless driving and pursued the vehicle involved for a short distance after it failed to pull over. The vehicle crashed into a parked car near the 1400 block of South Palomares Street, where Valencia exited and led the officers inside an apartment building.

Valencia barricaded himself behind the door of a unit as the officers tried to detain him. He fired six shots, striking Officer Gregory Casillas in the head and Officer Alex Nguyen in the cheek. Both were rushed to the hospital, where Casillas died after just six months on the job, the Pomona Police Department said.

“My scars run deeper than my face,” Nguyen said at the sentencing hearing, according to CBS News. “Not a day goes by that I don’t see, feel or think about my partner.”

Casillas was a 30-year-old father from Upland.

The shootings led to a 15-hour standoff between Valencia and authorities, which ended when Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies took him into custody.

Valencia has a history of arrests in the Pomona area, public records obtained by The Times show. He was sent to state prison roughly nine years ago for illegally possessing a firearm and discharging a gun in a school zone, as well as destruction of jail property, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesperson. He was released on probation around a year later.

According to CBS News, Valencia refused to go to court for his sentencing Monday and appeared on camera from his jail cell.

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