The man suspected in the fatal ambush shooting of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in court on Wednesday.
"What I can assure you is that we're going to do everything within our legal power to make sure that this defendant never gets out of prison," said District Attorney George Gascón.
The District Attorney's Office charged, 29, with one count of murder, plus special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer, murder committed by lying in wait, murder committed by firing from a car and personal use of a firearm. While the special circumstance allegations make Cataneo Salazar eligible for the death penalty, Gascón said that the 29-year-old will face life without the possibility of parole.
"If I thought that seeking the death penalty was going to bring Ryan back to us I would seek it without reservation," he said.
The charges against Cataneo Salazar stem from the ambush killing of Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer.
"Ryan, I miss you and I love you so much," fiance Brittany Lindsey said during a press conference. "I don't know how to live without you, and I didn't ever want to imagine it."
Lindsey continued her tearful remarks, lamenting about the couple's unfulfilled future. Clinkunbroomer had just proposed to her and the pair were planning their wedding. They also hoped to start a family.
"I'm so happy I was able to love him. It was not long enough," she said. "[Ryan], now look down at all your brothers and sisters in blue and keep them safe so this doesn't ever have to happen to anyone else. Protect them and watch over them as they continue to serve their community. Until we meet again."
Clinkunbroomer, a 30-year-old, third-generation deputy, was shot around 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16, while sitting in his patrol car at a traffic light near the station at Sierra Highway and East Avenue Q. Video from the scene shows a dark-colored sedan pulling up behind the patrol SUV, then slowly pulling alongside the driver's side of the deputy's vehicle, pausing, then driving away.
Sheriff's officials said a good Samaritan stopped to render aid. The wounded deputy was taken to Antelope Valley Medical Center in grave condition. Clinkunbroomer died later that night.
After an exhaustive 36-hour manhunt, deputies tracked Cataneo Salazar to his family's home. Following an hours-long standoff, deputies arrested Cataneo Salazar early Monday morning.
Salazar's family insists he is mentally ill and not in his right mind.
"My brother, he's getting called a coward," Salazar's sister said Monday. "I do want you guys to know that my brother did have schizophrenia. He has paranoia. He heard voices. We're not justifying, we don't know if he did (the shooting), if he did not. We are not justifying anything. We feel for the family. It hurts."
She said her family is praying for the Clinkunbroomer family, but added there are "two sides to the story."
"Just please, don't punish him like if he was a regular person. He's sick," she said.
Mother Marle Salazar said her son had stopped taking his medication and they could not get him the help he needed. She told the Los Angeles Times the family called sheriff's deputies at least twice because he refused to take his medication, but she was told there was nothing they could do.
She also said her son was never violent or aggressive toward anyone else but tried twice to take his own life because of the persistent voices he would hear in his head. After the shooting, she said her son acted normally.
Cataneo Salazar is being held without bail at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles. His next court hearing is scheduled for November 7th.
for more features.