Knowing When NOT To Jump

Last November, Riverside, Calif. PD officer Ryan Bonaminio was killed while doing something we’ve all done: chasing a “rabbit.” Late on a Sunday night, en route to a reported misdemeanor hit and run, he spotted the suspect vehicle. It pulled over adjacent a darkened park. The driver immediately bailed out and ran into the darkness. Bonaminio pursued. Details of the struggle are lacking. Bonaminio may have slipped on a wet surface. The suspect gained control of the officer’s sidearm and mortally wounded him.

The video cam in Bonaminio’s cruiser showed the suspect, a parolee with a violent criminal record, getting back into a trailerless semi-tractor and driving away. The semi was an unreported stolen. Cover officers arrived very quickly, within a minute or two. They found Bonaminio alive, but he died shortly afterward.

For editor Suzi and I, both San Diego PD vets, this case took us back to Jan. 9, 1988, and the death of one of our youngest and brightest, Officer Jerry Hartless. When he and his patrol partner rolled up on a bunch of corner-hangers, they scattered, prompting both cops to pursue on foot. Hartless, a former track star, was rapidly gaining on his quarry, leaving his partner far behind, when they disappeared around a corner. His partner returned to the unsecured idling cruiser. He heard a single shot. Jerry had taken a round between the eyes. He clung to life until Jan. 31, 1988, without regaining consciousness.


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