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State Patrol officer: I did not want to die in struggle with suspect
DA to decide soon to pursue case on shooting after June car chase
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Captain Mark Perry, director of public Information for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, gives a press briefing June 25 outside of the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville. A subject was shot and killed and another was detained during a foot pursuit after the two men in a Ford Explorer fled a road check near Industrial Boulevard. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Jumping down into the creek near Industrial Boulevard in Gainesville, A.J. Allen shouted at a fleeing suspect to stop before using his Taser twice.

As the Georgia State Patrol sergeant reportedly struggled to detain Rodrigo Guardiola, he said he saw the pictures of his wife and children circle in front of his face.

“I did not want to die in that muddy water, but at that second I feared it was happening,” Allen wrote in his report when Guardiola allegedly attempted to drown him.

Documents released by state patrol shed light on the events before a June 25 fatal shooting that is under the review of a Hall County prosecutor.

Rodrigo Guardiola, 36, of Gainesville was pursued by multiple Georgia State Patrol troopers after fleeing a road check during the Operation Rolling Thunder traffic enforcement event.

The Times filed an open records request for the investigative file and related videos from the Georgia State Patrol. The agency provided the written statements and call log, but did not release the video citing the “open and pending prosecution.”

According to the narratives, Allen felt Guardiola was “taller and broader” and feared he was going to be drowned.

Pushing himself out of the water, Allen wrote that he was able to draw his Glock 9 mm and fire “as soon as the barrel cleared the water’s surface.”

“I pulled the trigger twice, but only one round fired,” Allen wrote.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said he has been reviewing the statements from law enforcement and interviews with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“The matter is under my personal review, which I have nearly completed,” Darragh said.

Darragh said he will likely make his decision within the month whether or not to bring charges.

Cpl. Jonathan Munger wrote in his statement that he saw a Ford Explorer approaching a license check at Ga. 53/Winder Highway and Martin Road.

“I then heard tires squeal as the Ford Explorer conducted an improper U-turn, in the midst of traffic,” Munger wrote in his narrative.

According to the report, Munger attempted to catch up to the car with lights and sirens on when the Ford Explorer started accelerating

The car struck a raised concrete median, becoming airborne and traveling into a Walgreen’s parking lot.

The chase continued on to Interstate 985 North, where the car was “traveling in and out of traffic at 100-plus miles per hour,” according to the report.

At Industrial Boulevard, Allen approached from the rear and attempted to box in the car.

“However, the driver did not decrease his speed,” Munger’s report said. “In fact, the driver continued traveling forward maintaining his speed and failed to stop, striking our patrol cars.”

Guardiola got out of his car and ran along the railroad tracks, according to the report. Allen said he chased him into the wooded area when Guardiola fell “down a steep embankment in a head over heels manner.”

“I leaped down into the water behind the violator and shouted ‘Stop,’” Allen wrote in his report. “The violator did not stop fleeing. It was evident that the violator was taller and broader than me.”

Allen drew his Taser and pointed it at Guardiola’s back and used it twice, according to the report.

Guardiola’s arms were tucked under his chest as Allen reached for his handcuffs.

“As I reached behind my back, the violator turned in a counterclockwise rotation and hit me in my face with the closed fist of his right hand,” Allen wrote.

Allen said he fell backward and felt a hard blow to the top of his head.

“I then felt him place both of his hands on my shoulders and rotate my body counterclockwise, pushing down, forcing my body under the water,” Allen wrote in his report.

At that point, Allen wrote that he was held underwater “for what seemed like an eternity.”

Allen wrote he was able to push himself out of the water and draw his Glock 9 mm sidearm.

After hearing the shot, Munger reported seeing Allen for the first time since disappearing in the wooded area.

A third trooper said he had chased the passenger, Epitacio Gudino-Almazan, 31, of Gainesville. Gudino-Almazan was charged with possession of an open container and two counts of obstruction of an officer, according to his arrest report.

“As I approached, the suspect took a few steps away from Sgt. Allen,” Munger wrote. “The suspect fell forward face first into the creek and rolled over onto his back.”

The Times has attempted to reach Gudino-Almazan and the Guardiola family through multiple phone numbers found in the Comprehensive Justice Information System of Hall County. All attempts have been unsuccessful.

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