Man who shot at CHP officer sentenced

Mar. 3—Aaron Tobias Quinn, an Oroville man who was involved in a police chase and shooting with a California Highway Patrol officer, was sentenced Friday morning in a Yuba County courthouse, officials said.

Quinn, who was found guilty on Jan. 31 after Jan. 16, 2022, standoff with law enforcement, was sentenced to serve 85 years, 8 months to life in prison for the attempted murder of CHP Officer Ryan Lambert and other related counts, Yuba County District Attorney Clint Curry said.

Quinn, who had pleaded not guilty last year, was originally charged with attempted murder of a peace officer, assault with a semi automatic firearm on a peace officer, being a felon in possession of a firearm, recklessly evading a peace officer, and transportation of methamphetamine.

Due to his criminal past and the fact that he was out of custody for a pending felony case in Butte County, Quinn was expected to be sentenced under California’s three strikes law.

“In deciding to sentence Quinn to the maximum term, Judge (Julia) Scrogin focused on Quinn’s lack of remorse and noted that Quinn ‘only stopped firing because the gun jammed,'” Curry said Friday. “Quinn had over 50 rounds of ammunition left when the semiautomatic pistol he was firing at Officer Lambert jammed.”

On Jan. 16, 2022, Lambert attempted to stop a vehicle for a speeding violation in Butte County, the Appeal previously reported. Lambert has been a CHP officer since 2009. The CHP, at the time, said Quinn failed to pull over and as a result a pursuit occurred. The chase continued on several county roads in Butte and Yuba counties.

“Officer Lambert testified that he initially tried to pull over the Honda Civic driven by the defendant (Quinn) for speeding on Oro Dam Boulevard in Oroville,” Curry previously told the Appeal. “He described the pursuit that ensued. During the pursuit, Mr. Quinn ran numerous stop signs, sped down two-lane undivided roads at 95 mph, and used the oncoming lane to ‘straighten the road’ in curves. At least one car was forced to pull off the roadway to avoid being hit by Quinn. The defendant drove through Bangor and up La Porte Road toward Brownsville, entering Yuba County.”

Curry said Quinn then “tried an evasive move” and hit Lambert’s patrol vehicle, the Appeal previously reported. After that collision, Quinn continued down La Porte Road toward Bangor.

“A short time later Mr. Quinn lost control on a curve and crashed into a power pole. Officer Lambert stopped the patrol vehicle behind the Honda and was starting to take off his seatbelt when he saw the defendant open the door, lean out, and start shooting at him,” Curry previously said. “Officer Lambert quickly exited his vehicle and backed up while returning fire. When Officer Lambert reached cover, the defendant stopped shooting. Officer Lambert peeked out from cover two times, attempting to see where the defendant was. Each time the defendant shot at him again and Lambert returned fire. After the third exchange of gunfire, things got quiet. Deputy Jeremy Baumgardner then arrived. Officer Lambert could not estimate how long the gunfight lasted, but indicated it seemed like a long time. The radio transmissions suggest that the gunfight lasted somewhere between 23 seconds and a minute-and-a-half.”

Quinn, who was using a 9mm Ruger P89 semi automatic pistol, had fired six rounds before his pistol jammed, according to evidence recovered from the scene. Curry previously said three of the six rounds hit Lambert’s patrol vehicle.

“Six 9mm shell casings were recovered, and all of them were microscopically identified by a California DOJ forensic scientist as having been fired from the Ruger pistol used by Mr. Quinn,” Curry said.

While there is no body cam footage of the gunfight, Curry did say there was video from Baumgardner, who was the first backup to arrive at the scene approximately a minute after the shooting, the Appeal previously reported. Curry said an excerpt from the video was played for the jury that showed the moment Baumgardner “arrived on scene until the situation settled into a standoff about 10 minutes later,” Curry said.

According to investigative work done by CHP’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team, engineering equipment and digital scanners precisely measured the scene and were able to calculate bullet trajectories fired in the shootout.

“The bullet impacts to the CHP patrol vehicle clearly showed that Mr. Quinn was firing right at Officer Lambert,” Curry previously said. “One bullet hit the patrol vehicle’s front-left tire. A second bullet struck the patrol vehicle’s hood, penetrated the firewall that separates the passenger and engine compartments, and became lodged in the driver’s instrument panel. A third bullet went through the patrol vehicle’s windshield .”

In total, the standoff lasted about 45 minutes.

“Law enforcement officers from surrounding agencies rushed to the scene after Officer Lambert broadcast ‘shots fired’ and requested emergency backup, including peace officers from the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office, Butte County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, California State Parks, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife,” Curry said. “The officers set up a perimeter and tried to get Mr. Quinn to peacefully surrender. After about a 45-minute standoff, one of the officers rushed the car, believing that Mr. Quinn was losing consciousness. A group of officers then pulled Mr . Quinn from the car and detained him.”

During the shootout, Quinn was struck in the head and sustained a laceration and skull fracture. He later received treatment for those injuries at UC Davis Medical Center.

Curry previously said the entire incident was investigated by the Yuba Sutter Officer Involved Shooting Team, which is led by the Yuba and Sutter district attorney offices and made up of law enforcement officers with specialized training from local agencies.

“Officer Lambert is a hero, putting the badge on his chest and his life on the line every day to protect and serve us,” Curry said in a statement on Friday. “He, and every other man and woman who wears the badge, deserves our protection. Today we did our part, by locking up Aaron Quinn to ensure he never ambushes an officer on our streets again.”

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