The 43-year-old man who crashed his car through a security gate at a Warner Bros. lot allegedly told police that he was upset the studio hadn’t paid him for his starring roles in blockbuster films, and that the stunt was meant to draw media attention to his plight.
Appearing in Los Angeles Superior Court on Tuesday for a hearing, prosecutors said Michael Rodriguez-Cintron told detectives that he had starred in “The Matrix” and “Spider-Man,” and that the leading men pictured in the films were superimposed. He claimed he was owed millions by the movie studio.
Burbank Police Det. Jeff Lamoureaux testified that the claims raised red flags that Rodriguez-Cintron may be mentally unstable. It may also have been a prank, officials said.
Rodriguez-Cintron was arrested Sept. 17 after he crashed his Chevrolet Camaro through the wooden arm of Gate 5 and drove through the lot. He returned to the gate less than five minutes later and drove out of the lot, where security officials pulled him over. No one was hurt.
Prosecutors called a technician at Warner Bros. who claimed he saw a man with dark hair pouring liquid from a white bottle onto a black, late-model Lexus just inside the lot. But he couldn’t confirm the man he saw pouring the liquid was Rodriguez-Cintron.
A police officer testified in court that he found bundled matches and cloth strips in the front of the car. He said he also found a duffel bag containing five labeled bottles of lighter fluid, a red gas tank, a replica pistol and more matches in the trunk.
The Los Angeles County sheriff’s bomb squad was called to investigate the car for possible explosives, but lab results have yet to come back.
Without the test results to confirm the contents of the lighter-fluid bottles, Superior Court Judge Patrick Hegarty determined that possession of matches and cloth strips was not enough to charge Rodriguez-Cintron with an attempt to burn property at Warner Bros.
Still, he upheld a felony charge for possession of flammable material, even though the evidence for was “minimal at best.” An arraignment for Rodriguez-Cintron is scheduled for Oct. 20.
Rodriguez-Cintron exchanged smiles with friends and supporters as he left the courtroom.