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Parolee shot by police pleads not guilty to assault


The Norteño gangmember accidentally shot through the heart by a San Mateo police officer while allegedly trying to help a friend escape a high-risk drug search last summer pleaded not guilty to assault and battery against a peace officer.

Joseph Alejandro Ortega, 25, was ordered back to court Nov. 1 for jury trial and remains free from custody on $25,000 bail. Meanwhile, Hector Ramirez — the man whose residence police were trying to search — faces trial Aug. 9 on charges of drug possession for sale. 

On Aug. 9, 2009, San Mateo police officers and members of the county narcotics task force went to Ramirez’s home at 1448 Newbridge Ave. to serve a search warrant on suspicion he was selling methamphetamine. When officers arrived, Ramirez left the house and climbed into a passenger seat of a vehicle parked in front. When officers tried blocking the car, Ortega rammed his vehicle into an occupied police car, according to San Mateo police.

An officer at the scene accidentally discharged his submachine gun by tripping over a curb, shooting Ortega in the heart. He was taken to Stanford Medical Center for treatment and later transferred to Maguire Correctional Facility after being charged. 

On top of the assault and battery charges, Ortega was also sentenced to a year in jail for violating his parole by assaulting the officer. Those proceedings were separate from the new case and did not require a criminal conviction on the charges first.

The District Attorney’s Office cleared the detective of any wrongdoing.