Prosecutors are charging the former Hollister police officer accused of driving a stolen car onto a Gilroy sports complex toward an estimated 1,000 spectators and athletes before a Gilroy cop fired a shot at the vehicle, causing it to lose control, with two felonies and two misdemeanors.
Fresno’s Chad Browning, 42, faces a court arraignment to make those charges official at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in a Morgan Hill courtroom, according to district attorney’s spokesman Sean Webby.
Santa Clara County prosecutors are charging him with felony assault on a peace officer, felony vehicle theft, misdemeanor theft of personal property, and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance, confirmed Deputy District Attorney Murat Ozgur.
The assault on a peace officer charge could result in a sentence of up to five years in state prison if convicted, with other charges potentially adding to that time.
The Gilroy Police Department following Sunday’s incident had recommended charges of assault with a deadly weapon against a peace officer, methamphetamine possession and auto theft.
Browning is the former Hollister police officer who is suspected of stealing a car and then going on a driving rampage Sunday at Gilroy High School. Police say he attempted to drive onto a field where Pop Warner athletes from Hollister and other areas were playing games at the time. Alert Pop Warner onlookers closed a gate before Browning could enter, while a brave parent jumped in the vehicle in an attempt to stop him as well.
After Browning backed up the car and did a U-turn, a Gilroy officer fired one shot at the suspect, causing the vehicle to lose control before his arrest. Browning had been arrested just two days earlier in the Santa Nella area of Merced County, near Highway 152 and Dinosaur Point, after he was accused of slapping and spitting on a police officer to go with cocaine possession. Merced County jail personnel booked and released him at the time.
Browning was a Hollister police officer in the 2000s. Hollister Police Chief David Westrick has said Browning was employed at the department when Westrick, then an officer, joined the force in 2003 and that Browning left in 2007. Browning was assigned to patrol officer duties in Hollister.