A San Diego man who shot a CHP officer three times during a wild Paso Robles gunfight will serve at least 55 years in prison after receiving two lengthy sentences Thursday.
Clifford Scott, 24, had been convicted of several crimes, including attempted murder, for his involvement in an October 2012 shootout with CHP Officer Adrian Ayala. On Thursday, he was sentenced to consecutive terms of 34 years and eight months in prison and 30 years to life in prison.
Even with credit for good behavior, based on the sentencing formula, Scott will be close to 80 years old before he’s eligible for parole.
Before announcing the sentence, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge John Trice called Ayala a “true hero” and chided Scott for his actions.
“You deserve the sentence you’re about to get,” Trice told Scott. “If it were up to me, you’d never get out.”
Scott was a passenger in a vehicle traveling through Paso Robles on Oct. 27, 2012, when another CHP officer pulled the car over.
Ayala was one of two officers called to assist. During the stop, Scott jumped into the driver’s seat and sped off, at one point driving 100 mph on Spring Street, before crashing into a tree.
Scott, who had been in prison before, had cocaine in the car.
Scott exited the car and fled on foot, but Ayala eventually found him in a dumpster. When he called for Scott to surrender, Scott popped up from the dumpster, shooting. Ayala initially shot a Taser at Scott and then returned fire.
During the gunfight, Ayala was hit three times, Scott at least seven.
During Scott’s sentencing, his attorney, Linden Mackaoui, said Scott expressed concern for Ayala’s condition afterward.
“There’s never been any animosity,” Mackaoui said.
During his presentencing interview with the county Probation Department, Scott said he accepted responsibility for his actions.
“I understand that my actions jeopardized the safety of others,” he said. Yet, he added, “In my mind, I feel that this was a freak accident.”
Deputy District Attorney Eric Dobroth noted during the sentencing that Scott fired 11 rounds with a semi-automatic handgun.
Ayala, who attended the hearing wearing his CHP uniform, opted not to speak to the Probation Department and not to offer a victim impact statement in court. He previously declined to speak to The Tribune.
Scott did not make a statement in court.
Trice, however, said the defendant’s actions were incomprehensible.
“How does someone just 22 years old get into a situation like this?” the judge asked.
According to the Probation Department, Scott associated with the Lincoln Park gang in San Diego. He was convicted of robbery as a juvenile and on a weapons-related charge as an adult.