CHP officer charged with misdemeanors in suspicious shooting
SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. – A veteran California Highway Patrol officer was charged with three misdemeanors for a suspicious shooting in which he claimed he was wounded by a motorist on the freeway during the morning rush-hour.
CHP Officer Gary L. Burnett was charged Tuesday with falsely reporting an emergency, destroying or concealing evidence, and obstructing and delaying a peace officer.
Burnett claimed he was shot twice by a motorist he stopped for speeding Aug. 25 on Interstate 5. The officer drove himself to a hospital where he underwent surgery for nerve damage to his arm but his chest wound did not cause major damage because he was wearing a protective vest.
An intense hunt for the suspect along a 70-mile stretch of I-5 from San Clemente to the Mexican border caused a miles-long traffic jam.
Orange County Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh declined to give details on what prosecutors believe happened.
”This is not something I can talk about. But if the case goes to trial, I will have a complete picture to give to the jury,” Baytieh said.
Retired CHP Sgt. Don R. Burt, who still has contacts within the agency and whose son was a highway patrol officer slain during a traffic stop in 1996, has said other officers believe Burnett fabricated the shooting incident.
Burnett has denied shooting himself. He was scheduled to return to court Feb. 11 to enter a plea.