SANTA ANA, Calif. – Orange County prosecutors have cleared a La Habra police officer of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a suspect, who shot an officer last year, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
In a letter to the La Habra Police Department Chief Adam Foster dated Nov. 18, prosecutors cleared Officer Abigail Fox of any criminal conduct in the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Matthew-Tuan Anh Tran on Aug. 6, 2021.
A woman called police while driving about 6:25 p.m. that night because Tran, whom she did not know, was tailgating her in his 1998 Toyota Camry, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan Feldman, who wrote the letter.
The tailgating started on the Orange (57) Freeway and continued on to streets as she made several attempts to get out of his way, Feldman said. The woman was directed to drive to the police department’s station at 150 N. Euclid St.
Tran parked behind her, got out of the car, walked to the police station, and attempted to go in, but the lobby was closed and the doors were locked. Tran pushed a button next to the door to summon dispatchers, who attempted to talk to him through the intercom, but he would not respond, Feldman said.
Fox and Officer Mark Milward were dispatched to the station and they arrived about 7:08 p.m. in separate squad cars, Feldman said.
The woman told Fox she was frightened and pointed out the Toyota that was following her, adding that she did not know the man who was trailing her.
When Milward approached Tran he said he was at the police station to see someone, Feldman said. When Milward asked him if he was following the woman, Tran denied it.
Milward asked Tran to hang on for a moment and turned his back to him and was walking away when Tran pulled out a gun, cocked it, and aimed it at the officer, Feldman said.
Milward turned right and glanced over and saw Tran aiming a gun at him just as Fox also spotted the threatening gesture, Feldman said.
“Officer Fox yelled, `Hey! Hey! Hey!” Feldman wrote.
Tran “fired two rounds at Officer Milward,” Feldman said. “One round pierced Officer Milward’s bulletproof vest, striking him in the right upper chest causing him to fall to the ground. Officer Milward would recover from the gunshot.”
Fox “drew her gun and fired five rounds in rapid succession at Tran,” Feldman said.
Tran suffered a gunshot wound to the head, Feldman said.
“Officer Fox did not have time to de-escalate the situation or use less-lethal force because Tran was already firing at Officer Milward,” Feldman said. “Officer Fox fired in defense of Officer Milward. Officer Fox also feared for her life as well as (the woman’s). Additionally, Officer Fox feared for the lives of civilians in the area.”
Tran had amphetamine, marijuana, and methamphetamine in his system, according to the autopsy results.