MURRIETA – A parolee who allegedly detonated an explosive while being pursued by a California Highway Patrol officer pleaded not guilty today to assault on a peace officer and other felony charges.
Jesus Emiliano Almanza, 35, of Hemet could face more than 10 years in prison if convicted of the assault count as well as two counts of possessing destructive devices and one count each of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, receiving stolen property and reckless disregard of public safety.
Almanza appeared with his attorney before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Elaine Johnson, who set a felony settlement conference in the case for Dec. 4. She also left his bail at $750,000.
The defendant is being held at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
Almanza was arrested on Oct. 11 after allegedly fleeing from a CHP officer who attempted to stop him near Camino Los Banos and Shaver Street in San Jacinto for a traffic violation. According to sheriff’s officials, Almanza was at the wheel of a 2007 Nissan pickup occupied by two other people.
Sheriff’s Deputy Albert Martinez alleged that Almanza plowed through the intersection without stopping, slamming into another vehicle, which disabled the pickup. The defendant jumped out of the vehicle and allegedly leveled a pistol at the officer, who opened fire in response but did not hit him, according to Martinez.
The parolee then took out ”an unknown explosive device and threw it into the front yard of an adjacent house,” the deputy alleged.
”The device detonated, which resulted in a small explosion,” Martinez said. ”No injuries were sustained due to the device. After the detonation, Almanza surrendered and was taken into custody without incident.”
The woman at the wheel of the car struck by the Nissan suffered minor injuries.
The other two occupants of the pickup, neither of whom were identified, were arrested along with Almanza but later released.