Off-duty deputy dies after being punched in road rage incident

Off-duty deputy dies after being punched in road rage incident
Posted at 6:41 AM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 02:04:19-05

SAN BERNARDINO, CA (KCAL/KCBS/CNN) – A suspect described as a gang member and “habitual criminal” was arrested Sunday after allegedly throwing a road rage-induced punch at an off-duty sheriff’s deputy.

Suspect Alonzo Leron Smith, 30, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the death of 70-year-old San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Larry Falce.

Surveillance video of a New Year’s Eve fender bender involving the two shows Falce swerve to avoid two dogs running across the street. That’s when he hits Smith’s car.

Following the accident, both men exit their vehicles, and Falce approaches Smith. The two appear to exchange words before Smith suddenly throws a punch at Falce.

Falce falls straight backward, hitting his head on the pavement.

As a few good Samaritans rush to provide aid to Falce, the video shows the suspect trying to drive away, but a man driving a white truck slams into Smith’s car, trapping the man for a while and allowing witnesses time to take down the vehicle’s license plate.

Smith, who police say is a transient, was arrested hours later at his girlfriend’s house.

Meanwhile, Falce, a deputy of 36 years and the oldest to serve in the department, was transported to a nearby medical center. He was taken off life support Tuesday.

Falce is survived by his sister, nephew and longtime girlfriend. His sister described him as a remarkable public servant who was one of a kind.

San Bernardino District Attorney Mike Ramos described Smith as a gang member who should have still been behind bars. In January 2015, on an appeal, the suspect had been released from prison two years into a 12-year sentence.

“We need to get this career criminal off the street who’s been in prisons and jails ever since he was able to be tried as an adult,” Ramos said. “I get tired of this.”

Copyright 2018 KCAL, KCBS, San Bernardino County Sheriff, Falce Family via CNN. All rights reserved.