Police Files

Woman, 18, charged with felony DUI after boy, 17, falls out of her moving car in NoLag, is seriously injured

A witness called 9-1-1 after seeing a person’s “…head hit the sidewalk…” according to the police log. The call was received from Myrtle St and Cypress Dr at 5:04 p.m. last Wednesday.

The driver of a 2013 black Audi A4, an 18-year-old Laguna Beach woman, was driving the intoxicated boy home according to LBPD Sgt. James Cota. “He asked the driver to stop. When the car stopped, the intoxicated juvenile exited and then collapsed while the car was still moving according to a witness.”

Kiani Leigh Harriman, 18, Laguna Beach, was arrested for possession of meds without a prescription and felony DUI with $100,000 bail.

Felony DUI under the vehicle code is defined: It is unlawful for a person, while under the influence of any drug, to drive a vehicle and concurrently do any act forbidden by law, or neglect any duty imposed by law in driving the vehicle, which act or neglect proximately causes bodily injury to any person other than the driver.

Sgt. Cota said the boy was transported to Mission Trauma Center. “His current medical status is unknown.”

Police have identified a serial package theft suspect

LBPD Sgt. James Cota replied to our inquiry of the arrest of a Lake Elsinore man last Saturday with the following:“Over the last year, numerous incidents of package theft and possible burglaries have occurred in Laguna Beach and throughout Orange County. Our detectives have been working together with other police agencies in including the Orange County Probation Department to locate the individual. 

“We were able to identify the suspect and the vehicle he drove when committing these crimes. The Orange County Probation Department just recently issued a warrant for his arrest for failing to comply with his probation terms.” 

The police log has an incident report from Saturday at 6:24 about the arrest of Anthony Brian Palusso, 32. Sgt. Cota said Palusso was identified suspect and was held without bail on the probation charges. 

Cota added, “The Laguna Beach Police Department currently has open cases of mail/package theft that are linked to him.”

Parolee arrested for trespassing thanks to alert neighbors

Police received a call from concerned and alert neighbors about a suspicious man in the 100 block Crescent Bay Dr at 9:42 a.m. Saturday.

Sgt. James Cota said, “The caller said a male walking towards the park kept looking back. Another female stopped the RP stating that the male subject had ducked into the yard. Officers searched and made a positive match and took the suspect into custody at 10:16 a.m.

Ralph Francis Bowers III, 46, Huntington Beach was arrested for trespassing and held for parole hold without bail.

He was on parole for a burglary conviction.


Police Files

Two times is a charm – off to jail twice in four days

Richard Alan Hendrickson, 67, was arrested twice in a four day stretch in the 600 block of Bolsana Drive – both times for violating the same restraining order (RO). 

On Monday at 6:52 p.m., police were called by a woman living there who said the suspect was parked in her driveway. She had driven by and was parked down the street, police said.

LBPD Sgt. Jim Cota told us, “She had called him, told him to leave, he refused and claimed the RO is not valid.”

His bail for the arrest on the valid restraining order was $15,000, the same amount that had been set on May 4 when he was also arrested. That evening, he knocked on the door of the home.

LBPD assisted CHP and Sheriff with felony car stop downtown

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Jeff Fernandez - Facebook

Laguna officers assisted CHP and OC Sheriff’s units at a felony car stop on Broadway at Coast Hwy Wednesday morning. The suspect above had led the agencies on a high- speed chase in South County. Details were not available at press time.

Woman arrested for stealing candy worth $3 from man

Police officers responded to the 300 block of Ocean Avenue late Tuesday morning after callers reported that a woman was out of control and had been yelling and screaming at people.

On scene, a man complained that Irene Marchell Garcia, 50, no fixed address, had grabbed candy worth $3 from him and then ran off.

Police located her and took her into custody for petty theft with bail of $500.


Police Files

Third time DUI offender battles cops and gets tased 

A 9-1-1 caller alerted Laguna police about a Honda Accord headed into town on Laguna Canyon Road shortly before 7 o’clock last Thursday evening. A patrol unit saw the Honda parking in a Broadway retailer’s parking lot.

Zackary Andrew Gillenwater, 22, La Mirada, allegedly threw trash from the car before getting out. 

LBPD Sgt. Jim Cota said Monday, “As the officer contacted him, the driver refused to stop and stated he would not comply. The officer attempted to get him to comply repeatedly but Gillenwater refused to cooperate. The officer reached out and grabbed him to detain him. 

“Gillenwater resisted the officer’s efforts and pulled away. He was tased and then handcuffed. Even after being handcuffed, Gillenwater threatened officers and medical personnel.  

“Gillenwater was arrested for DUI (third offense), and felony resisting arrest. He also had an outstanding North Court warrant for his arrest and his driver’s license was suspended. Gillenwater was booked and transported to OCJ with $20,000 bail.”


Police Files

Detectives solve multiple vehicle burglaries at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park lots with arrest this week

Stu News Laguna learned last night that LBPD detectives used exhaustive reviews of evidence to solve multiple vehicle burglaries over the past two months in the parking lots of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park on Laguna Canyon Road.

Michael Krier, 40, Anaheim, was arrested late Tuesday and charged in some of the cases, police said. The investigation is ongoing.

In several cases, the suspect smashed windows and grabbed valuables that had been left in plain sight during daylight hours.

A review of digital evidence from the area led detectives to Krier, who, we have learned, confessed when interviewed.

Speeding Toyota chased on Coast Hwy at 100mph until crashing

A black Toyota Camry whizzed past an officer traveling at a high rate of speed headed northbound on Coast Highway from West Street just before midnight Tuesday. The driver, later identified as Eric Balderas, continued northbound hitting speeds in excess of 100 mph between Thalia and Legion Streets. 

Balderas, 25 of Rancho Santa Margarita, crashed his Camry in the 200 block of S. Coast Highway. He was charged with felony evading and DUI with two priors. Police took him directly to Orange County Jail for booking. 


Police Files

Copter used to rescue “heavily intoxicated” teenager

Click on photo for a larger image

An OC Sheriff’s helicopter was needed to rescue a 17-year-old Rancho Santa Margarita boy below the 31500 block of Bluff Drive above Table Rock Beach in South Laguna Saturday afternoon. The boy was unconscious. Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD said he was “heavily intoxicated…[and]… transported from the beach to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo for advanced medical treatment. The juvenile has since regained consciousness.” Thanks to John Thomas for the photo.  

Laguna cops chase car stolen in SoLag to Santa Ana with speeds hitting 100. Suspect arrested there

A resident on Virginia Way in South Laguna heard his 2016 Hyundai Genesis start up at 2:29 a.m. Saturday…the keys were in the car.

A LBPD patrol unit spotted the car outbound on Laguna Canyon Road and the chase was on with speeds hitting 100 mph on the 405 Freeway. The suspect exited at Dyer Road into Santa Ana where Santa Ana PD units joined the pursuit.

The suspect bailed on foot in an apartment complex according to Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD. “He hopped a fence into a backyard and broke into a garage. The suspect was taken into custody at 2:53 a.m. and charged with auto theft and felony evading.”

He was identified as Felix Ezequiel, Jr., 26, of Santa Ana.

Intoxicated couple fought with cops on the sidewalk

Brian Flick, 27, Laguna Hills and Santa Figueroa, 50, Anaheim, were arrested after they fought with officers in the 1100 block of S. Coast Hwy at 2 a.m. Saturday.

Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD said, “Officers contacted a male subject exiting the Sandpiper Bar who was visibly intoxicated. He was identified as Laguna Hills resident, Brian Flick. As officers attempted to arrest Flick, he resisted their efforts and a struggle ensued. A charge of felony resisting was added due to the fact that Flick fought with officers preventing them from conducting their duties. An officer was injured in the altercation. Flick was arrested for public intoxication, battery to a police officer, and resisting arrest. He was taken directly to Orange County Jail. 

“A female, Santa Figueroa of Santa Ana, was also arrested for public intoxication and interfering/resisting arrest.”


Police Files

Teenagers learned a lesson at Thousand Steps Beach

Three teens were enjoying a nice Sunday morning at Thousand Steps when they decided to go into the water. They left their “don’t get it wet” items on the sand and jumped into the ocean.

Naturally, their three iPhones and wallets containing credit cards and cash were gone. A witness said a male and a female went through their property and left with the wallets and phones. 

Police did an area search but were unable to locate the suspects,

Working together to stop distracted driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Laguna Beach Police Department, CHP, local law enforcement, and community partners throughout the state are working together to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving, especially by cell phones. 

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.” 

Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on Jan 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted. Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. 

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. 

This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Police Files

Driver of stolen Honda evaded cops Sunday afternoon

Neighborhoods near S. Coast Hwy and St. Ann’s Drive were abuzz late Sunday afternoon by police officers and a circling helicopter. Police issued alerts to the area informing residents that the search was on for a suspected driver of a stolen 1998 black Honda CRV. Officers had stopped the SUV at 4:53 p.m. on St. Ann’s.

Sgt. Jim Cota of the LBPD explained Monday: “The driver exited the vehicle and fled on foot west to the beach. The officer pursued the suspect on the sand for approximately 100 yards. The suspect then accessed a set of private stairs and ran east towards Gaviota Dr. A perimeter was established containing the 700 Block of Gaviota. A helicopter from Anaheim PD and a canine unit from Newport Beach PD responded for assistance.” 

Photo by Louis Weil

Beach access stairway to Gaviota used by the suspect to escape police

Cota added, “Several announcements were made from the helicopter and the PA system of the police vehicle before a search was initiated. The suspect was not located. The outstanding suspect was described as a bald male white with black pants and a gray shirt. The vehicle was recovered and processed for evidence at the scene.” 

15-year-old Huntington Beach girl was very fortunate

A 15-year-old girl from Huntington Beach was hit in the southbound lane of Coast Hwy at Camel Point Dr at 20 minutes before 10 Saturday night. 

Sgt. Cota said Monday, “Police and fire personnel responded to Coast Highway and Camel Point Drive for a reported vehicle versus pedestrian hit and run traffic collision. Emergency personnel arrived and found that a 15-year-old girl from Huntington Beach had stepped into the southbound #2 lane of Coast Highway to walk around a legally parked car. She was struck by the side mirror of a passing car. 

“She was knocked against the parked car and was able to move out of the roadway. The passing car did not stop and fled the scene. The suspect car was described as a newer model silver four-door sedan with tinted windows. The pedestrian was transported to Mission Hospital-Mission Viejo for a laceration to her arm.”

Passenger in stolen Jetta danced in the street when stopped

According to the police log, a female passenger inside a stolen 2013 VW Jetta got out when the car was stopped by police at 1:33 a.m. Saturday at S. Coast Hwy and Nyes Place and began dancing. She was eventually released without charges.

The driver, Markus Dante Cash, 28, San Juan Capistrano, was charged with felony possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine. 

Bail was set at $20,000.

Working together to stop distracted driving

April is recognized as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. In California, the Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Laguna Beach Police Department, CHP, local law enforcement, and community partners throughout the state are working together to make the roads safer by highlighting the dangers of being distracted while driving, especially by cell phones. 

“Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets,” said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “Take care of calling, texting, setting your GPS and everything else before you hit the street.” 

Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on Jan 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle. Under the new law, a driver may activate or deactivate a feature or function of the cell phone or wireless communication device by swiping or tapping its screen only if it is properly mounted. Specific information on the new law can be found at www.ots.ca.gov. 

The Office of Traffic Safety will begin a new public awareness campaign throughout the state in April emphasizing how the new law makes virtually all hand-held cell phone activity illegal – talking, texting, and using apps. The campaign aims to end distracted driving through education and raise awareness about the associated dangers. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle collisions involving distracted drivers in 2015. That is a 9 percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year. 

Officers from the Laguna Beach Police Department will join other law enforcement agencies throughout the state to provide educational experiences as well as zero tolerance enforcement efforts to discourage distracted driving. 

This campaign is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For further information, contact Lieutenant Tim Kleiser at (949) 464-6655 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Police Files

Woman arrested for felony assault at Skyloft

On March 10, a woman was hit in the face with a glass at Skyloft and taken to the hospital for her injuries.

After reviewing video footage of the incident and conducting an investigation, Laguna Beach Detectives identified and arrested the suspect on Tuesday, April 18.

Detectives located and arrested Sherida Angelica Arias, 38, Anaheim, for assault with bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, and mayhem.  

Man arrested for threatening police officers and their families

On Monday, April 17, at 3:56 p.m., officers responded to Alta Laguna Park after receiving a call of a man sitting in his vehicle for over an hour.

“When officers contacted the man, he was threatening to them and continually spoke about the violence he would do to them and their families if they did not leave him alone,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesperson.

The man, identified as Anthony Tabarsi, 51, Costa Mesa, was taken into custody shortly thereafter and charged with making threats to deter officers from performing their duties and challenging officers to a fight. 

He was taken directly to Orange County Jail.


Police Files

18-year-old caught in a stolen car with two juveniles on board

At 5:33 a.m. on Friday, April 14, officers were notified that a Honda Odyssey that had been stolen in Costa Mesa a week earlier had entered Laguna Beach.

Officers stopped the vehicle near Anita Street and Coast Highway and detained its three occupants. 

The driver, Spencer Hastings Jr., 18, Costa Mesa, was arrested for felony vehicle theft with $20,000 bail.

The two female juveniles were transported to the police station.


Police Files

Tesla sideswipes semi-truck while on autopilot

Tesla started equipping its Model S vehicles with self-driving hardware in October 2014, to “relieve drivers of the most tedious and potentially dangerous aspects of road travel,” according to their website. The Autopilot function works like the same systems airplane pilots use – the driver is still responsible for and in control of the car.

This function didn’t work out too well for the driver of a Tesla S70 on Laguna Canyon Road Monday afternoon.

“The Tesla was headed outbound on Laguna Canyon Road when it collided into a semi-truck that was stopped on the side of the road just past Raquel Road,” said Sgt. James Cota of the LBPD. “At the time of the collision, the Tesla was in the autonomous mode.”

Neither parties were injured, but according to the police log, a tractor and trailer needed to be towed from the scene due to rear axle damage. 

Homeless man caught driving stolen car

On Monday at 9:40 a.m., officers were alerted to a 1990 Volvo stolen in Laguna Woods making its way down Coast Highway.

The car was stopped near El Paseo and Laguna, and its occupants detained shortly after 10 a.m.

The driver, Christopher Paul Mack, 49, no fixed address, was arrested for felony vehicle theft and possession of a stolen vehicle. 

Motorcyclist sustains head injury after hitting curb on Park Ave

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Tuesday, Laguna Beach Police officers arrived at Park Avenue and Tahiti Avenue following reports of a traffic collision.

“Officers on scene determined that a motorcyclist had collided with a curb and into the guardrail,” said Sgt. James Cota, LBPD spokesman. 

The rider sustained a head injury and was taken to Mission Hospital Mission Viejo for care.

 

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