By Paul Young
An ex-con who ambushed and gunned down a Riverside policeman following a 2010 foot chase was familiar to law enforcement for having run from officers before when they tried to arrest him, testimony revealed today.
Earl Ellis Green, 46, is facing the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole for the Nov. 7, 2010, slaying of 27-year-old Ryan Patrick Bonaminio.
An eight-man, four-woman jury convicted Green on May 11 of first-degree murder, vehicle theft and being a felon in possession of a gun, and found true special circumstance allegations of killing a peace officer and committing a murder to avoid arrest.
The penalty phase of the defendant’s trial got under way today, and the prosecution began by delving into his past crimes, including a Nov. 2, 1993, confrontation with Riverside police.
Detective Rick Cobb and retired Officer George LeFear testified about the encounter, which started when Green fled from Cobb, then a patrolman, after narcotics investigators asked for his assistance stopping the parolee in the area of Anderson Avenue and Linden Street.
Cobb testified that Green refused to pull over and sped away to a nearby park, bailing out of the car, hurtling a wrought-iron fence and racing onto the grounds, where Cobb lost his footing and fell down, momentarily losing track of Green as several fellow officers arrived to help.
According to Cobb, when he caught up with the defendant, two other officers were tangling with him, trying to take him into custody.
“He was struggling, kicking his feet,” Cobb said. “It wasn’t easy trying to get him under control.”
LeFear said he tackled Green to the ground after the parolee ignored commands to stop. Both Cobb and LeFear noted that Green kept his hands pinned beneath his body, as if holding onto something, which both men feared was a weapon. With the help of fellow officers, they finally got his hands behind his back and handcuffed him.
No weapon was found.
Green later pleaded guilty to felony drug possession.
Almost exactly two years earlier, in 1991, Green was identified as a prime suspect in an armed robbery at a Circle K in Beaumont. No one was hurt in the hold-up, which netted $70 cash and $6 in food stamps, according to trial testimony. Green was identified as the suspected gunman, and money from the hold-up was allegedly found in his possession, but charges were never filed in the case for lack of positive identification.
Testimony in the penalty trial will resume tomorrow.
The prosecution is expected to rest its case Thursday.
Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Mike Hestrin described Bonaminio’s murder as a “callous, cold-blooded execution.”
According to testimony, on the night of Nov. 7, 2010, Green stole a semi truck with no trailer from a Rubidoux facility and got into fender-bender with a motorist on Market Street, near the Pomona (60) Freeway.
The ex-con fled the accident scene, prompting the other driver to call police, at which point Bonaminio responded to the area and stopped Green adjacent to Fairmount Park.
Green jumped out of the truck, ran through the park and into the parking lot of the nearby Center for Spiritual Living on Ridge Road. As Bonaminio caught up with the defendant, the officer lost his footing in a freshly watered planter and fell in the mud.
The sole eyewitness to the shooting testified that Green immediately pounced on the lawman, smashing him in the head three times with a steel pipe.
The defendant then grabbed the severely injured officer’s .40-caliber Glock pistol, racked a bullet in the chamber and took aim.
According to testimony, Bonaminio struggled to his feet, put his hands in front of his face and shouted at Green, “Don’t do it!”
Hestrin said the defendant fired two rounds, both of which missed, then approached to within two feet of Bonaminio and — after a five-second pause — fired a third shot into the top of the officer’s head.