Man wanted for Palm Springs car theft arrested after officer-involved shooting in Laguna Beach

PALM SPRINGS – A wanted parolee spotted in a car stolen from Palm Springs was in custody today after allegedly trying to run over police officers in Laguna Beach, triggering a non-injury officer-involved shooting.

Richard Lewis, 55, of Redlands, was arrested Sunday after allegedly stealing a car from Palm Springs and being spotted by police in Laguna Beach.

According to Sgt. Jim Cota of the Laguna Beach Police Department, Lewis was seen just before 5 p.m. Sunday in the vehicle, along with his ex-wife, heading south on Coast Highway.

He later pulled the car into a cul-de-sac in the 100 block of Thalia Street, where officers followed him and attempted a “high-risk traffic stop,” Cota said.

Lewis’ ex-wife jumped from the moving car, which Lewis tried to drive into the officers, who had exited their patrol car, Cota said.

One officer fired two shots into the stolen vehicle, but neither of them struck Lewis, who allegedly drove off and abandoned the car in the 600 block of Cuprien Way, less than a mile from the scene of the shooting.

After abandoning the car, Lewis jumped over fences from backyard to backyard throughout the neighborhood before being located and taken into custody, Cota said.

Lewis was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, felony evading and possession of stolen property. Cota said Lewis had “an extensive criminal history,” as well as an outstanding $100,000 warrant for his arrest for identity theft. That warrant stemmed from an incident that occurred in Palm Springs, for which Lewis pleaded guilty last September. He received three years of supervised release, but allegedly violated the terms of his release, leading a judge to issue the warrant for his arrest in May.

 

Lewis’ ex-wife was treated for minor injuries following her leap from the car. She was detained, but was later released and will not be facing criminal charges, Cota said.

The Laguna Beach Police Department will conduct an internal investigation of the circumstances surrounding the shooting, which involved an 18-year veteran assigned to the Field Services Division, Cota said.

Anyone who saw the shooting, has video or other information was asked to call the Laguna Beach Police Department at (949) 497-0701.

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