Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson announces that today a Douglas County jury convicted Lawrence resident Zachary J. Ortiz, 26, of the June 2014 aggravated assault of a Lawrence Police Department officer.
On Sunday, June 22, 2014 shortly after 12:30 a.m. officers with the Lawrence Police Department were dispatched to the area of Kasold Drive and Harvard Road in reference to the sound of gunshots fired. The 911 caller said the shots were muffled and sounded like they came from the house on the corner or the house south of that one.
The first officer that arrived contacted the 911 caller, then contacted Ortiz’s father, who was standing on the driveway of his residence. The father told the officer that Ortiz was drunk and was inside the home. Because of the report of gunshots fired, the officer told the father that he would like to check on Ortiz’s welfare. The father led the officer into the garage where they were met at the door into the house by Ortiz. Ortiz was wielding an unknown object over his shoulder in a striking position. The officer identified himself as a police officer and ordered Ortiz to drop the object. Ortiz then turned and ran into the house. Ortiz’s father ran into the house after him, and the officer followed to ensure the safety of the father. Ortiz ran to an upstairs bedroom, where he picked-up a shotgun. Ortiz then pointed the shotgun at the officer when the officer reached the bottom of the stairs. The officer again identified himself as a police officer and repeatedly ordered Ortiz to put the shotgun down. Ortiz refused to comply and loaded a shell into the shotgun. At that point the officer, believing Ortiz was about to use the shotgun against him, shot Ortiz. Ortiz fully recovered from his wounds.
Ortiz faces 17 to 46 months in the custody of the Kansas Department of Corrections. His actual sentence will depend on his prior criminal history. The Court ordered a pre-sentence investigation be completed and scheduled him to be sentenced on August 26 at 3:30 p.m.
Officers with the Lawrence Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and Johnson County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and Chief Assistant District Attorney David Melton and Assistant District Attorney Alice Walker were the prosecutors. The trial was held in the Division Six Courtroom of the Honorable Peggy C. Kittel. Jury selection began on Monday, July 18. Attorneys gave opening arguments on Tuesday morning and testimony continued through Thursday. Attorneys delivered closing arguments this morning and the case went to the jury at approximately 10:30 a.m. The jury deliberated for about one and a half hours before returning its verdict.