RIVERSIDE - Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Earl Ellis Green, the ex-convict accused of killing a Riverside police officer, Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco announced today.
Green, 44, of Rubidoux, is accused of killing Officer Ryan Patrick Bonaminio on Nov. 7.
He is charged with first-degree murder, vehicle theft, being a convicted felon in possession of a gun and special circumstance allegations of killing a peace officer and committing a murder to avoid arrest.
Green has arrests and convictions spanning more than two decades.
Pacheco said the decision to seek the death penalty for Green was not difficult.
"It was not a close call for us. It was overwhelming for us," he said. "We of course listened to the family. We are terribly sorry for their tragic loss. Officer Bonaminio was, it is fair to describe him as a hometown hero. He grew up in this community. He served two tours in Iraq and served our community well and our country well, and we were fortunate to have his service, both locally as well as for the nation."
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Roger Luebs approved the unsealing of bail-setting affidavits filed in Green's case -- over the objections of his attorneys.
The documents, written by Riverside police Detective Ron Sanfilippo, detail what happened on the night Green allegedly attacked and killed Bonaminio.
Around 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 7, Green, allegedly driving a stolen yellow semi truck with no trailer, hit a woman's car on Market Street near the Pomona (60) Freeway, according to Sanfilippo's narrative.
The document states that the defendant drove onto the freeway and was followed by the woman, whose name was not released.
After going on and off the freeway, with the victim tailing him and talking to a 911 dispatcher, Green allegedly drove back to the original location and stopped near the entrance to Fairmount Park, where he got out of the truck and approached the woman, who told detectives she saw Green wearing an unfamiliar tool on his waist.
Fearful of speaking to him without a police officer present, the woman refused to get out of her car, and Green drove away again, according to Sanfilippo.
Sanfilippo said Bonaminio stopped the truck on Market Street, near Ridge Road, where Green apparently jumped out and fled into the park, with the 27- year-old officer in pursuit.
A witness watched the foot chase, which ended outside the Community Wedding Chapel at 3981 Ridge Road, according to Sanfilippo.
The witness told investigators that Bonaminio slipped and fell as he tried to round a corner and was immediately pounced on by Green, who allegedly struck the officer three to four times in the head with a hand weight bar.
The witness said Bonaminio got to his feet with his hands shielding his face, shouting "`Don't do it. Don't do it," according to Sanfilippo.
Green allegedly leveled a handgun at Bonaminio and fired a shot that went wide of the mark, Sanfilippo said.
"(The witness) said the suspect fired a second shot ... that appeared to hit (Bonaminio) in the face," Sanfilippo said. "(The witness) said the officer was falling to the ground when the suspect closed the distance on the officer, pointed the gun downward and fired a third shot into the officer's head at close range."
Bonaminio was discovered moments later by backup officers and rushed to Riverside Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Green fled the area in the stolen truck, according to police. He was identified through a fingerprint match and images gleaned from Bonaminio's patrol car camera, leading to his arrest outside a Riverside Target store two days later.
Search warrants executed at his residence at 5161 34th St. and another property led to the recovery of the slain officer's .40-caliber Glock pistol, authorities said.
The defendant's attorneys, Deputy Public Defenders O.G. Magno and Gail Crane, argued that Sanfilippo's affidavit would prejudice Green's case if released to the public. But Luebs said the lawyers failed to meet a "very high bar to justify a seal."
Luebs also ruled against the defense's request to impose a gag order on Pacheco and the prosecutors and police officials involved in the case.
Bonaminio, a former soldier and veteran of two tours in Iraq, was the first Riverside police officer killed in the line of duty since January 2001.