“The peace officers who responded to the officer’s call of shots fired put the safety of others before their own. We are grateful to the jury for their service in this case and for the lengthy sentence for this dangerous individual. We also have much appreciation for the work that was conducted by California DOJ criminalists, at the crime scene and in the forensic lab.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
YUBA COUNTY – On March 3, 2023, Aaron Quinn was sentenced to the maximum possible term of 85 years and 8 months to life for attempting to kill CHP Officer Ryan Lambert, along with other charges from the incident, including transporting methamphetamine for sale, reckless evasion of the police, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Quinn was convicted on January 31, 2023.
In deciding to sentence Quinn to the maximum term, the judge focused on Quinn’s lack of remorse and noted that Quinn “only stopped firing because the gun jammed.” Quinn had more than 50 rounds of ammunition left when the semiautomatic pistol he was firing at Officer Lambert jammed.
The incident began shortly before 9 a.m. on Sunday, January 16, 2022, when CHP - Oroville Officer Ryan Lambert attempted to stop Quinn on Oro Dam Blvd. for speeding. Unknown to Officer Lambert at the time, Quinn had a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and was transporting almost 1.5 ounces of methamphetamine for sale. Lambert also did not know that Quinn had a history of high-speed chases and assaulting officers.
Quinn led Officer Lambert on a high-speed chase for more than 22 miles from Oroville to a remote mountainous area of Yuba County near Brownsville. Officer Lambert was driving a marked CHP patrol vehicle with red and blue flashing lights and a siren. The pursuit ended when Quinn failed to negotiate a sharp turn on a winding section of La Porte Road, crashing into a power pole. Officer Lambert did not have time to stop and get out of the patrol car before Quinn began shooting at him. Officer Lambert returned fire with his duty weapon and a short gunfight ensued. The gunfight ended when Quinn's pistol jammed and Quinn suffered a wound to the top of his head from the return gunfire. Officer Lambert was not hit.
A Yuba County Sheriff's Department deputy arrived on scene about a minute after Officer Lambert broadcast "shots fired" and an emergency call for assistance. Officer Lambert and the deputy attempted to get Quinn to surrender. Quinn refused and the scene settled into a stalemate with Quinn in the Honda and officers forming a perimeter.
Law enforcement officers from multiple agencies responded to the emergency call for assistance, including from the Yuba County Sheriff's Department, Butte County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, California State Parks, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife. They were eventually able to detain Quinn. Yuba County Sheriff's deputies provided first aid until emergency medical professionals arrived. Quinn was taken by ambulance and treated at the UC Davis Medical Center.
The incident was investigated by the Yuba Sutter Officer Involved Shooting Investigation Team. The "OIS Team" is led by the Chief Investigators from the Yuba and Sutter District Attorney's Offices, and consists of investigators from all the local law enforcement agencies. Criminalists from the California Department of Justice, and experts from CHP - Valley Division's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team helped document and collect the evidence.
Forensic evidence from the scene, including analysis of the shell casings and bullets, fully corroborated Officer Lambert's testimony about how the incident unfolded. Investigators were able to determine that Quinn fired six rounds, at least three of which hit Officer Lambert's patrol vehicle. One of the rounds fired by Quinn ended up stuck in the driver's instrument panel, just inches from where Lambert was sitting as he stopped his vehicle. A second round flattened the front-left tire, and a third went through the windshield. The evidence clearly showed that Quinn shot directly at Officer Lambert multiple times in an attempt to kill him.
Jurors also heard from several officers who dealt with Quinn in the past. Retired Oroville Police Chief Mitch Brown testified before the jury about a pursuit that occurred in Oroville in June of 2007. During the pursuit in that case, the defendant drove a Ford F-250 in the wrong lane straight at a patrol car driven by Oroville Police Officer Sanzone. Officer Sanzone was forced to pull off the roadway to avoid a head-on collision. A short time later, the defendant used the Ford F-250 to ram the unmarked Ford Crown Victoria driven by Chief Brown. The collision crushed the driver’s side of Chief Brown’s car, injuring and pinning Chief Brown in the car. Quinn was convicted in 2008 of those assaults, earning two "strikes" and over nine years prison. The 2007 assaults on Chief Brown and Officer Sanzone were alleged in the Yuba County 2022 case as prior strikes.
“Officer Lambert is a hero, putting the badge on his chest and his life on the line every day to protect and serve us,” said Yuba County District Attorney Clint Curry. “He, and every other man and woman who wears the badge, deserve our protection. Today we did our part, by locking up Aaron Quinn to ensure he never ambushes an officer on our streets again.”