EXCLUSIVE: Video shows Tulare Co deputy shooting unarmed woman in suspect hotel room

Action News is getting an exclusive new look at a Tulare County sheriff's deputy shooting an unarmed woman inside a suspect's Delano hotel room in June.

We acquired body camera footage released as part of a federal lawsuit filed by the victim against Tulare County and sheriff's deputies. Her 4-year-old son already got a seven-figure settlement from another agency.

Tulare County sheriff's deputy Rommel Verenzuela opened fire so quickly as he ran past the opening door of a hotel room, his body camera didn't even catch a view of the open door.

But the shot hit its mark. A bullet hit Alexis Resendez in the abdomen, right below her heart.

Deputies made her crawl to them on her injured stomach and while she waited for medical aid, she asked a critical question.

"Why'd you guys shoot me?" you could hear her ask in Verenzuela's body camera video.

"We heard the shots and someone opened the door, ok?" he told her. "We didn't know if it was going to be him coming out."

Tulare County sheriff's deputies and Delano police went to the hotel looking for her boyfriend, Arturo Galvan, because he was a suspect in a drive-by shooting the day before.

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Raw bodycam video of an incident in which a Tulare County sheriff's deputy shot an unarmed woman inside a suspect's Delano hotel room in June.

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Raw bodycam video of an incident in which a Tulare County sheriff's deputy shot an unarmed woman inside a suspect's Delano hotel room in June.

The deputies inside the hotel tried to coax them out, but got word Galvan had climbed out the window a few seconds before the threat of violence grew louder.

"Open the door," the deputies demanded as they knocked on the door, but they both backed up when they heard gunfire.

Verenzuela's partner then tells him to come his way and as he did, he opened fire while running past the door.

"He doesn't know what he's shooting at," legal analyst Tony Capozzi. "There's no question about that. But what's in his mind when he does that? Does he believe his life in danger at that point in time?"

Capozzi says a jury would have to decide if it was reasonable for Verenzuela to shoot into the doorway without knowing who he was shooting or whether they posed a threat.

And he says attorneys could easily question whether the deputies should've waited for a SWAT team or if their positioning shows improper training.

Her parents saw the video and said the shooting is clearly excessive.

"It sucked," said Steven Resendez before his wife, Anita, took over. "It just brought back a lot of memories of that day because it was one of the most terrifying, emotional days of our lives, not knowing if our daughter was alive."

The pain is still there for their daughter and the bullet is still visible right under her skin six months later. Her boyfriend died in the hail of gunfire outside the hotel, so she also lost her son's father.

The 4-year-old always said he wanted to be a police officer, but his grandparents aren't sure how this will affect his plans.

"It's just sad and tragic how everything turned out," said Steven Resendez. "But we thank God our daughter is still here with us, that my grandson didn't lose both his parents."

Delano police shot and killed Galvan when he jumped out of the hotel room.

The city paid his family more than $2 million before even facing a lawsuit.

Neither Galvan nor Resendez had any weapons.

Investigators seized her car, but she told Action News they found no evidence connecting Galvan to the drive-by because he wasn't involved.

The Tulare County district attorney's office did not file any charges against Resendez, but they tell Action News the case is still under review and legal analysts say the Delano police officer could face charges.

The Tulare County sheriff's office deferred comments to the Tulare County counsel's office, and their attorneys told us their policy is to not comment on pending litigation.

But they filed an answer in court denying any wrongdoing.

Resendez's excessive force lawsuit is set for trial in 2021.
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