Man who hit Schechterle's police car in '01 deported

Posted: Updated:
Jason Schechterle By Jennifer Thomas Jason Schechterle By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- An illegal immigrant convicted of aggravated assault in a car crash that severely burned a Phoenix police officer has been deported to Mexico after serving his prison sentence.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said Rojelio Gutierrez, 45, was released Sept. 12 from the Arizona Department of Corrections in Phoenix and transferred to ICE custody in Florence.

An immigration judge ordered Gutierrez removed to Mexico and he was deported Thursday through the Dennis DeConcini Port in Nogales.

Authorities said Gutierrez was driving a taxi when he struck Jason Schechterle's police cruiser at more than 90 mph on March 26, 2001. Schecterle's cruiser burst into flames and he suffered severe burns to more than 50 percent of his body.

In May 2002, Gutierrez was convicted on two counts of aggravated assault and sentenced to 12 years in prison.

"While this man's removal from the United States doesn't change the tragedy that befell Officer Schechterle, we hope it does bring some reassurance that Gutierrez will not be posing such a horrific threat on the streets of our communities again," said Katrina S. Kane, field office director of ICE ERO in Arizona. "We at ERO are committed to focusing our resources on those convicted criminal aliens who victimize our citizens and who simply should not be allowed to set foot in our cities."

If Gutierrez illegally returns to the United States, he may be charged with felony re-entry after deportation, a federal crime that carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years and/or a $250,000 fine.