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June 5, 2023

Former cop accused in rampage scheduled for plea hearing

The former Hollister police officer accused in a driving rampage at a Gilroy sports complex in September is expected to enter a plea at his next hearing in November.
Fresno’s Chad Browning, a former Hollister Police Department officer, is set to appear at a Santa Clara County Courthouse for a plea hearing at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9, according to a prosecutor.
Prosecutors charged Browning, 42, on suspicion of  two felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with the Sept. 9 incident. Those counts include felony assault on a peace officer, felony vehicle theft, misdemeanor petty theft, and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance reported as methamphetamine.
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.
He is accused of driving a stolen car onto a Gilroy sports complex toward an estimated 1,000 spectators and athletes before a Gilroy police officer fired a shot at the vehicle, causing it to lose control.
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.