Prosecutor: Not enough evidence to charge FBI agent

News

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Records show that after a former FBI agent shot at Grand Rapids police officers in December 2016, his partner arrived at police headquarters drunk.

24 Hour News 8 pored through some 80 pages of documents from the Grand Rapids Police Department, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, that detail a timeline of the night Ruben Hernandez shot at officers. He and his partner, John Salazar, were in the area from the FBI’s Las Vegas office working on a case.

Among several findings, the documents detail Salazar showing up at GRPD headquarters once he learned Hernandez was arrested. Officers noticed he seemed drunk, confiscated his gun and gave him a portable breath test (PBT) which was .116.

Additionally, the rental car the two were using was processed outside the department. Documents show it was parked on Monroe Center NW but don’t specifically say Salazar drove himself there. After officers interviewed him, Salazar was then driven back to their hotel by a local FBI.

GRPD has surveillance cameras overlooking the Monroe Center entrance.

Target 8 has wanted to ask the police chief if officers reviewed footage when Salazar arrived to see if he drove himself, but so far the chief has not granted 24 Hour News 8 an interview.

PROSECUTOR RESPONDS TO NO CHARGES

Target 8 spoke to Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker by phone Friday about the case. He said they reviewed reports on Salazar, but didn’t have enough evidence to charge him with anything.

“What we saw when we got the report is that the PBT was at 5:22 [a.m.]. We have no idea when the gun was taken off of him to say what the BAC was at that time… Blood alcohol level goes up and down and I don’t know if he was going up or down which way, so we have no idea what his blood alcohol level was when his gun was on him,” Becker explained.

According to Michigan law, the legal limit for carrying a firearm is .08. Breaking the law is a misdemeanor punishable by 93 days in jail and/or a 100 dollar fine.

When asked if he thought a citizen walking into police headquarters while drunk and armed would result in the way Salazar was treated, Becker said he can’t speak to GRPD protocols.

DOCUMENTS DETAIL FBI AGENTS’ BAR TABS

The pages obtained by Target 8 include narratives written by officers involved in handling the shooting and subsequent investigation. One reads, “[Special Agent] Salazar eventually arrived at HQ by unknown mean(s)… It should be noted that Salazar seemed intoxicated to all officers speaking with him in the lobby.”

Another shows that he submitted to a breathalyzer test just after 5:20 a.m. on Dec. 6, which found he had a blood alcohol content level of .116. Michigan’s legal limit is .08.

A third narrative shows that Salazar was armed when he arrived at the station. A local FBI agent who also responded to headquarters confiscated the gun before a GRPD officer escorted Salazar to an interview room. There, Salazar also turned over his cellphone and consented to a search of his hotel room.

The documents don’t specify what time Salazar showed up at GRPD headquarters, but it was sometime after 2:43 that morning, because officers found a McDonald’s receipt inside the white Nissan the two were renting.

None of the documents specifically state that Salazar drove himself to the department, but one says the car was parked out front on Monroe Center NW.

A different receipt included in the reports shows Salazar and Hernandez spent four hours at Brann’s Steakhouse and along with their meals bought 12 beers — 10 of which were 20-ounce Bell’s Brewery Two Hearted Ales and the other two of which were 14-ounce Two Hearteds. They headed to Sensations Showgirls nightclub, located near CenterPoint mall in the area of 28th Street and the East Beltline, just after midnight. An interview with a bartender there shows the two bought five drinks total.

At some point while the two were inside the nightclub, Hernandez left and eventually ended up at the nearby Planet Fitness, walked around the gym with his gun and eventually shot at a responding GRPD officer. No officers were hit and no one was hurt.

Surveillance footage detailed shows Salazar left the club around 1:30 a.m. and spent an hour trying to find Hernandez before heading to GRPD.

FORMER FBI AGENT IN PARANOID STATE DURING SHOOTING

At some point while Salazar and Hernandez were at Sensations, Hernandez left the nightclub without Salazar knowing.

That’s when Hernandez may have had a “paranoid” episode, his attorney Larry Willey said. He said alcohol may have played a factor.

“He felt that people were getting him, that sort of thing,” Willey said. “I’m not saying that was, in fact happening, but that’s what he believed.”

Police say he walked inside Planet Fitness and pulled his gun.

He “brandished a firearm while making some disturbing comments while walking around the facility,” Grand Rapids Police Department Detective Matt Kubiak testified while swearing out a warrant for the agent’s arrest.

Responding to a 911 call, GRPD Sgt. Neil Gomez spotted Hernandez in the nearby Orbit Room parking lot north of the Shops at CenterPoint mall.

“He illuminated him with his spotlight,” Detective Kubiak testified. “At that time, Mr. Hernandez raised a handgun and fired shots at Sgt. Gomez’s vehicle.

Hernandez surrendered moments later to other responding officers.

“He was then taken into custody,” Kubiak said. “At that point, officers learned that he was an FBI agent from another state.”

No one was hurt during the incident.

Hernandez has since reached a plea deal with the Kent County prosecutor. He will be sentenced in April for felonious assault.

Becker has recommended he not receive jail time.

The FBI fired Hernandez after the shooting. It’s not clear whether or not Salazar still works for the agency.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links