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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Man Pleads Not Guilty in Officer Attack : Hearing: Ronald Arnett Coleman reportedly told investigators that he hit Amy Bonilla because she put her hand on her gun.

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A Palmdale man accused of trying to kill a California Highway Patrol officer told investigators that he made a mistake by punching the officer repeatedly, but said that he did so because she put her hand on her gun, according to court records released Wednesday.

Ronald Arnett Coleman, 33, appeared in Newhall Municipal Court on Wednesday with a cast on his right arm as he pleaded not guilty to charges against him. Coleman’s hand was examined by medical personnel after he complained of pain, but it was unclear if the injury was sustained during the alleged assault on the officer.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Susan Speer said Coleman could receive a maximum sentence of 23 years and four months in state prison if convicted of attempted murder, assault on a peace officer, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm by a felon and resisting arrest.

Coleman was arrested Monday after reportedly hitting CHP Officer Amy Bonilla, 28, in the face after she stopped his vehicle about 8 a.m. on the Antelope Valley Freeway near Golden Valley Road.

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A limousine driver and two off-duty Burbank Police Department officers stopped and restrained Coleman. Authorities said they may have saved Bonilla’s life.

Bonilla managed to fire one round from her service revolver during the altercation, but Coleman’s hands were on the barrel and the shot went into ground, court records said. He let go of the gun after the shot and the officer tried to fire again, but the weapon malfunctioned for reasons still under investigation.

Coleman told detectives with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s Santa Clarita Valley station that he had visited an ex-girlfriend Sunday night in South-Central Los Angeles, where he smoked two PCP cigarettes.

He was returning to the Antelope Valley when Bonilla pulled him over for driving about 85 m.p.h., according to court records. An argument ensued and the alleged assault occurred when Bonilla tried to administer a field sobriety test to Coleman to see if he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. She also told Coleman that he would be jailed if he did not cooperate.

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“She put her hand on her gun so I hit her,” Coleman told sheriff’s deputies, according to court records. He also said, “I shouldn’t have hit her.”

Coleman, a parolee with several previous convictions for drug, theft and weapons offenses, is in custody in lieu of $715,000 bail. A bail review hearing is scheduled Tuesday and a preliminary hearing to determine if he will stand trial on the charges against him is scheduled Aug. 15.


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