Slain Riverside Officer Ryan Bonaminio pleaded for his life, officials say
A Riverside police officer pleaded for his life before he was fatally shot by a state prison parolee who had led the patrolmen on a high-speed pursuit and foot chase last week, the Riverside County district attorney said Monday.
Dist. Atty. Rod Pacheco on Monday filed a first-degree murder charge against Earl Ellis Green, 44, for the “assassination” of the 27-year-old officer. The prosecutor said his office is weighing whether to seek the death penalty.
Officer Ryan Bonaminio was chasing Green through the city’s Fairmount Park when he slipped and fell and, while in a “vulnerable position,” he was attacked by Green and had his gun taken away, Police Chief Sergio Diaz said.
“It is clear from the evidence and several witnesses that Officer Bonaminio pleaded for his life before he was murdered,” Pacheco said at a news conference in Riverside on Monday. “This defendant ignored those pleas and shot him. He considered it carefully and made his choice.
“He could have run, he could have kept going,” Pacheco said. “Instead, he turned, grabbed the gun and shot him.”
A Riverside County Superior Court judge on Monday postponed Green’s arraignment until Dec. 16 and, at the request of the defense attorney, ordered a mental health evaluation of the Rubidoux resident, a violent felon with convictions dating to 1990.
The murder charge includes two special circumstances that make Green eligible for the death penalty: the murder of a police officer and murder to avoid imminent arrest. Green also was charged with vehicle theft and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Bonaminio, an Iraq war veteran who had been with the Police Department since 2006, was on routine patrol the night of Nov. 7 when he tried to pull over a stolen semi-truck believed to have been involved in a hit-and-run collision near the 60 Freeway. Green, the alleged driver, sped south on Market Street before pulling over in front of Fairmount Park and running into a field.
As Green ran up an embankment toward a church parking lot, the officer slipped on grass that was still wet from a rainstorm, authorities said. Investigators declined to say whether Bonaminio lost his gun when he slipped or had it wrestled away while he was attacked.
Bonaminio’s father, who attended the news conference, said at the very least Green deserves to serve a life sentence in a place such as Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, not one of the “ Beverly Hills” state prisons in California. When asked if he wanted his son’s killer to face the death penalty, he said he was content to let the justice system decide — but his true feelings were readily apparent.
“He assassinated my son. He does not deserve to be breathing the same air as you and I are breathing right now,” his father said. “It’s just that simple with me. I just want justice for my son. That’s all I want.”
Green has been arrested at least 13 times in Riverside County and received multiple convictions for spousal abuse as well as car theft, drug dealing, receiving stolen property and battery of a police officer. He was paroled from state prison in February 2009 after serving more than half of a three-year sentence for vandalizing a former girlfriend’s property, according to court records.
A family member in Rubidoux reported that Green threatened to kill him the week the officer was killed, and that the incident was reported to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. The police chief, when asked whether state parole agents should have immediately taken Green into custody, said it would be unfair to second-guess decisions made by overworked parole officers handling massive caseloads.
The funeral for Bonaminio is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Grove Community Church in Riverside. He will be interred at Riverside National Cemetery.