PALM SPRINGS (CNS) - A pair of Camp Pendleton Marines assaulted two police officers in the moments leading up to a confrontation that led to one of them being shot to death inside a Palm Springs parking garage early Saturday morning, the police chief said Monday.
Chief Al Franz told reporters that one Marine was visibly drunk, and the other refused an order to turn off his car and stop it as a police officer was leaning in his car's passenger-door window, attempting to prevent their departure from a downtown Palm Springs parking garage.
No names have been released by the coroner or police, but the Desert Sun newspaper said family members had come forward to identify the killed motorist as Cpl. Allan DeVillena II, 22, of San Jose.
Franz stepped before reporters today to give an accounting of the events leading up to the two bicycle-mounted officers firing their service weapons inside a parking garage at 275 S. Indian Canyon Dr. at 1:58 a.m. Saturday, as nearby bars were closing in the heart of the resort city's entertainment district.
The officers saw the two men walking into the garage and "recognized one of them from an earlier public intoxication incident,.
"The two men began yelling derogatory comments at the officers, and they dismounted and approached" the men inside a black Chrysler 300 sedan, Franz related.
"One officer asked the suspect to turn off the car, but the suspect ignored the officer's order and began turning the vehicle around" inside the parking garage, the chief said.
"The officers repeatedly ordered the suspect to stop the vehicle but he refused to do so," he said.
"One of the officers climbed partially into the passenger's side window, attempting to stop the vehicle.
"The suspect directly accelerated toward the second officer and continued on with the initial officer suspended from the passenger side window," he said. The car crashed near the garage exit, and the second officer was hit by the car.
At some point, the officers opened fire to protect themselves and others, Franz said.
The driver, identified by his family as DeVillena, was dead at the scene. The other man was arrested in an outstanding, unrelated misdemeanor warrant and for public drunkeness, but eventually released, the chief said.
Both officers were treated for minor injuries and released at a hospital.
Second Lt. Savannah Moyer, the public affairs officer with the 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton, said the dead man was attached to the 1st Marine Logistics Group.
The department initially reported that the bicycle officers saw a fight break out in the parking structure as they approached the Chrysler. Both police officers have 4-1/2 years with the department, and were put on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the shooting investigation.