Wichita officer-involved shooting suspect let out of jail weeks before incident

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The man accused of firing at Wichita police and leading them on a chase in late December faced a judge on Tuesday.

Elijah Martinez, 21, was charged in four unrelated burglary cases. In court, Martinez stared straight ahead as the Sedgwick County judge rattled off the numerous burglary and theft charges against him.

Tuesday was the first time the public had seen Martinez since a December 27 officer involved shooting. In that case, Wichita police said Martinez opened fire on officers, stole a pick-up and led police on a chase. Martinez was shot in the jaw and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Wichita police arrested Martinez several weeks before the shooting, on a burglary case and then let him go.

“In this particular case, the detective could not get the case to us in a fast amount of time,” said Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett. “When someone is arrested, they have to have a bond set within 48 hours by Supreme Court rule then they have to be charged within the next day.”

Bennett said Wichita police are faced with dozens of cases each day. He said most of the time more violent crimes will take precedent.

“Every case has a reason to make it a priority for somebody, not just the victim, but for the police department. There is any number of reasons why this case that came in this morning should be a priority. It’s a matter of managing those priorities,” Bennett said. “Bottom line is, it’s what the police chief is supposed to do is tend to the resources that he has available and make decisions where to place those resources.”

Bennett added there’s no way his staff or officers can predict what someone may do when they’re let out of jail.

“On any given night there is about 1,400 people booked in jail. There is no way to predict which one of them is going to do this or that,” he said. “So the judge shouldn’t have let him out? Well, sure easy call to make after the fact, not so easy call to make in the moment.”

Police did issue a warrant for Martinez shortly after he was let go in the burglary case.

Martinez is expected to be back in court later in the week to face charges in the officer-involved shooting.


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