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Friday, 18 January 2008

Nino Joseph Garcia Jr.,

Nino Joseph Garcia Jr., 24, of Banning was killed Tuesday in the courtyard of the Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, after five officers - two sheriff's deputies, assisted by two state Department of Justice officers, and one Palm Springs police officer - fired on him when he pointed a handgun at them in an attempt to avoid arrest.
Exactly who killed Garcia remains under investigation, said Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez, a spokesman for the sheriff's department.
Authorities have declined to say exactly what charges Garcia was wanted on, citing an ongoing investigation.
Garcia, who had prior convictions in Riverside County for drug and firearm violations, was sent to prison about 2? years ago, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
He was convicted of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale and carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle or public place and sentenced to 16 months in prison starting Aug. 2, 2005.
He was paroled March 8, 2006 and discharged April 7, 2007.
Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said Thursday that Garcia wasn't released because of overcrowding.
"He was a short-termer," Thornton said. "Plus, because of his sentence, he was eligible for credits."
Credits that reduce time served can be earned by inmates who participate in a work program. Inmates can also get credit for time served in county jail before they are transferred to state prison, she added.
"Because he didn't complete his entire year and four months, he must have had some credits," she said.
"But he did complete his parole and therefore he was discharged."
The officers in Tuesday's shooting remain on leave, and each of their departments is conducting internal investigations to ensure proper protocol was followed.
During Tuesday's incident, a casino slot attendant was injured while working inside the casino's Cascade Lounge.
The courtyard where Garcia died is outside the lounge. At least one bullet went astray and went through a window by the patio and struck the worker's leg.
He was treated and released from Desert Regional Medical Center with minor injuries, officials said.
Authorities are also reviewing surveillance video from the casino, which may have captured Garcia and the woman inside the casino and possibly the shooting itself, officials said, adding that the video will not be released due to an ongoing investigation.The woman, whose name has not been released, had been held at the Palm Springs Jail but was herself arrested on a felony warrant and remains part of an ongoing investigation into Tuesday's incident, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
Authorities have declined to discuss specifics of the investigation that led them to seek Garcia, saying only that Garcia was the focal point and that it was being led by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, with assistance from the DOJ and Palm Springs Police.


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