RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco believes a deputy who was killed in the line of duty this week would still be alive if it wasn't for a judge's decision to free the suspected killer from custody in a previous case.
Deputy Isaiah Cordero was shot and killed Thursday during a traffic stop.
Investigators said he had pulled over the driver of a pickup truck just before 2 p.m. in Jurupa Valley. As he approached the vehicle, the driver pulled out a gun and shot him, according to Bianco.
The suspect, 44-year-old William Shae McKay of San Bernardino County, had a long and violent criminal history stretching back to before 2000 that included kidnapping, robbery and multiple arrests for assault with a deadly weapon, including a 2021 police chase in which a California Highway Patrol dog was stabbed, allegedly by an accomplice of McKay, the Bianco said.
According to Bianco, McKay had been convicted of a "third strike" offense last year that should have put him in state prison for 25 years to life, but a San Bernardino County judge lowered his bail, allowing his release, and later released him following an arrest for failing to appear at his sentencing.
"He should have been immediately sentenced to 25 years to life," Bianco said. "We would not be here today if the judge had done her job." Bianco said.
Eyewitness News reached out to the court that handled the case, but officials declined comment.
Meanwhile, the Riverside Sheriffs' Association has established a fund to help Cordero's family, available at this link.
Area resident Alicia Caloca, who brought flowers Friday morning to the Jurupa Valley Sheriff's Station to honor Cordero, believes the deputy's death did not have to happen.
"This could have been prevented. It just kind of makes you more angry and a little bit more upset about how the system can be," she said.
El Monte police officers also delivered breakfast to the Jurupa Valley Sheriff's Station. They understand this community's pain.
"I felt like my heart dropped," said Ruben Quintana with El Monte Police.
Back in June, El Monte Police Sgt. Michael Paredes and Officer Joseph Santana were gunned down at a motel while a investigating a crime.
"My heart goes out to them. If I had a magic wand, I would wave it and rewind time. But unfortunately life doesn't work that way. All I can do is offer my support in any way that I can," Quintana said. "We grieve and mourn with them."
Cordero was a motorcycle officer assigned to Jurupa Valley, a city that contracts with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for policing services.
Cordero joined the 4,000-member strong department as a corrections deputy, worked in local jails, became a sworn deputy in 2018 and completed motor school to become a motorcycle deputy in September, Bianco said.
Cordero "learned from his mother the value of serving and helping others" and his goal at the department was always to become a motor deputy, Bianco said.
"He was naturally drawn to law enforcement and certainly embodied our motto of service above self," Bianco said. "He was a jokester around the station and all of our deputies considered him their little brother."
Several hours after the shooting, dozens of motorcycle officers and patrol cars escorted a hearse transporting the deputy's flag-draped casket from the hospital to the county coroner's office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.