LAS VEGAS — A Las Vegas man who was 17 when he fired three shots into a police vehicle in September 2015, wounding a police officer in what authorities called an ambush, has been sentenced to 15 to 50 years in Nevada state prison.
Francisco Urias-Quintana’s court-appointed attorney, Jennifer Fraser, said Tuesday she was disappointed by the length of the sentence handed down Monday in Clark County District Court.
With two years already served, Urias-Quintana will be 32 when he is first eligible for parole. The deputy public defender said the conviction and sentence can be appealed.
“Of course we understood the seriousness of the case,’ Fraser said. “But that should be offset by his age at time of the offense.”
A state court jury found Urias-Quintana guilty in July of multiple felonies including two counts of attempted murder for opening fire with a stolen handgun at a police SUV idling at a traffic signal at a busy crossroads about mid-day on a Sunday several miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas.
Officer Thomas Clevenger was wounded in the hand but jumped from the passenger seat and pulled a woman away from the line of fire while his patrol partner, Officer Sergio Orizabal, chased and caught Urias-Quintana.
Neither Clevenger nor Orizabal fired a shot. Urias-Quintana told police he was so surprised the officer started chasing him that he just gave up. Police said the teen tried to toss the .40-caliber weapon away as Orizabal approached.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson called the shooting an ambush. It came two days after another Las Vegas police officer was seriously wounded in a backyard shootout with two alleged burglars, during a spate of other high-profile shootings around the country. They included the slayings of a sheriff’s deputy pumping gas into a patrol vehicle in suburban Houston and a deputy answering a domestic violence call in Carson City, Nevada.
Urias-Quintana said he found the gun on a patio table at an apartment complex while he was on his way to buy liquor and decided he just wanted to kill a cop, according to an arrest report.
Fraser pointed to research finding that teenagers are less capable than adults of assessing risk and appreciating consequences.
“Hopefully, Francisco will get the rehabilitation services he needs while at prison,” she said.
The U.S. Supreme Court in a January 2016 ruling banning mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles, said teens should be treated differently than adult offenders because they’re less mature, prone to manipulation and capable of change.
Police Officer Larry Hadfield said Tuesday that Clevenger, 48, a 14-year police veteran, and Orizabal, 34, a police officer for 12 years, are still on the job.