Man killed in shooting deemed high risk, but released from jail days before |

Man killed in shooting deemed high risk, but released from jail days before

Crime scene investigators continue to work the scene of an officer-involved fatal shooting which occurred New Year’s Day at Oak Street and Walker Drive Thursday afternoon.
Elias Funez/

Officials don’t have all the answers as to why Gabriel Strickland — killed in a New Year’s Day confrontation with law enforcement — had been released from custody just two days earlier.

Strickland, 25, was shot after he pointed what was believed to be a shotgun at officers. Strickland was reportedly hit five times and died at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. An autopsy was performed Friday but preliminary results were not available that evening.

Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies Brandon Tripp and Taylor King, as well as Grass Valley Police Officer Brian Hooper, were placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.

Strickland had been arrested by Grass Valley police officers on Dec. 27, reportedly fighting officers before being handcuffed. During a search, officers located drug paraphernalia, a .22-caliber handgun and ammunition in his pockets, officers said.

Strickland was charged with possessing a loaded firearm while under the influence, being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and resisting arrest. His bail had been set at $300,000, according to court records.

At Strickland’s Monday arraignment in Nevada County Superior Court, Judge Tom Anderson granted him pre-trial release, following the recommendation on the pre-trial release report prepared by the county probation department. The report noted his current charges and past criminal history including convictions for violating a protective order and battery, as well as violations for being under the influence of a controlled substance. The report gave Strickland a high risk assessment score, but deemed him eligible for supervised release, with conditions that included no possession of a controlled substance or a weapon.

A pre-trial release report is designed to assess the risk to the community if a defendant is released without having to post cash bail. Factors such as the current charges and the criminal history are taken into account, as well as the person’s life situation, Nevada County Probation Chief Officer Michael Ertola said.

“We use a validated (risk assessment) tool,” he said, “We do a face-to-face interview, and come up with a risk level.”

Being deemed a high risk does not necessarily preclude release, Ertola said.

Strickland was not facing any “exclusionary” charges such as kidnapping or other violent crime, he explained.

Ertola said he would have more information available as to the basis for the recommendation made by his department on Monday. But, he said, ultimately the decision to release a defendant should come after a discussion in court between the district attorney, the defense counsel, and the judge.

The pre-trial release report did not provide a lot of information, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh, adding that Deputy District Attorney Casey Ayer opposed Strickland’s release.

Deputy Public Defender Tamara Zuromskis, who represented Strickland, declined to comment.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4236.

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