Police were on the scene after a driver plowed into Los Angeles County law enforcement recruits, injuring 25, during a morning run in Whittier on November 16, 2022.
CNN  — 

The man who was arrested for allegedly driving a vehicle into a group of law enforcement recruits in Whittier, California, was released from jail Thursday night, but the sheriff’s department insists they did not make a mistake.

Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez, 22, was released from custody at 9:49 p.m., according to jail records, citing an insufficient complaint.

Gutierrez is still considered a suspect in the case, and the decision to release him was made because investigators want more time to collect evidence to present to the District Attorney’s office for charges, not because they believe an error was made, said a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Police are required to present a case within 48 hours of a suspect’s arrest, and they were not ready to do that with Gutierrez, Mares said.

The Sheriff’s Department is typically required to present a case to the DA within 48 hours of a suspect’s arrest, and they were not ready to do that in the case of Gutierrez, Mares said.

The 25 recruits from multiple law enforcement agencies were injured Wednesday when a vehicle drove into the group, an incident Villanueva initially labeled “a horrific accident.”

The sheriff’s department originally said they intended to present the case to the DA’s office on Friday. The department did not give a new timetable Thursday for presenting the case.

CNN has requested comment from Alexandra Kazarian, an attorney for Gutierrez who told CNN affiliate KABC Thursday, “I have no doubt that an in-depth investigation will confirm that Nicholas is a hard-working young man who holds no animosity towards law enforcement, and this was an absolutely tragic accident.”

Gutierrez was booked Wednesday, inmate records show. He was alone in the vehicle at the time of the crash, the sheriff’s department said.

Five of the injured cadets were listed in critical condition. Another four recruits suffered moderate injuries, while 16 sustained minor injuries, the sheriff’s office said. Gutierrez suffered minor injuries, too, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Sheila Kelliher said.

Gutierrez also suffered minor injuries, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Sheila Kelliher said. All were taken to local hospitals and no updates have been given on the conditions of those injured.

The case remains under investigation and additional charges are pending, the sheriff’s office said. CNN has reached out to the DA’s office and the California Highway Patrol, which is leading the investigation into the crash, for further details.

Initial reports said it wasn’t intentional

The crash appeared to have been “a horrific accident,” Villanueva originally said at a Wednesday news conference.

The driver, who was going the wrong way, showed no sign of impairment and blew a zero on a Breathalyzer test, he said. There were no skid marks visible at the scene, the sheriff said.

“It looked like an airplane wreck – so many bodies scattered everywhere in different states of injury,” Villanueva said. “It was pretty traumatic.”

Those injured include recruits from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, along with the Pasadena, Glendale and Bell police departments. Recruits from the El Segundo and University of California, Los Angeles police departments were also present but not hurt.

The 75 recruits, all wearing white T-shirts and green shorts, were on what sheriff’s Capt. Ted McDonald of the department’s training bureau described as a “typical run,” part of the department’s 22-week training course. They were accompanied by two safety vehicles and were running in four lines when they were hit, McDonald said.

The crash occurred about 500 feet from a fire station, officials said. The four most critically injured patients were rushed to the hospital, Los Angeles Fire Chief Anthony Marrone said. It likely saved their lives.

The incident was “hard to see because these young people are getting ready to go put themselves in the line of danger in their career,” Kelliher, the fire captain, said. “And who knows that while you’re training to do that, you’re actually in harm’s way.”