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When Anthony (last name withheld by request), a cab driver for Red Top Cab in Temecula, picked up his passenger on February 11 at the Extended Stay America hotel on Jefferson Avenue, he had no idea that a heavily armed fugitive task force from the California Department of Corrections (CDC) had staked out his fare and was waiting to arrest him.

Parolee John Armes, wanted for assault with a deadly weapon, asked to be driven to what he said was his home, in an area near Chaparral High School. In the residential area, Anthony noticed the flashing red lights on a vehicle behind his cab. Anthony pulled over, thinking a police car was trying to get around him. Then he heard the order to put his hands up and place them outside the cab.

“I could see he was refusing to cooperate,” says Anthony of his passenger. He said, “‘I’m not putting my hands up.’” Armes ordered the cabbie to keep on driving. “I wasn’t,” said Anthony. “There were guns pointed at me.”

Anthony says Armes jumped into the driver’s seat and tried to take control of the vehicle — Anthony kept one foot on the brake. When Anthony jumped out of the vehicle, a gun was fired at Armes. It was a taser, which Anthony says must have missed Armes because Armes drove the cab onto the curb and then down the street at about 40 miles per hour. Armes crashed into an unmarked police car and then took off on foot, only to be gunned down by the undercover cops. He was pronounced dead at a Wildomar hospital.

Anthony says he never saw Armes with a gun; if he had one Anthony believes Armes would have “pointed it at my head ” to get him to drive his cab further.

The enforcement action was carried out by what is known as the “FAT guys” — Fugitive Apprehension Team, according to CDC spokesperson Luis Patino. Members of the FAT team are deputized U.S. Marshals, so they can move between jurisdictions — cities, counties, even across state lines, to apprehend fugitives.

According to Anthony, none of police cars were marked. The vehicles were gray or blue.

“The guys had badges and guns but were in normal street clothes, with the exception of their bulletproof vest,” says Anthony.

What may have startled Temecula residents is that an unmarked police force from a little-known state agency was in their neighborhood shooting at suspects. And the town’s local police department — the Riverside County Sheriff’s Dept. — may have been unaware of it.

Anthony said he didn’t see any Temecula sheriff’s units until one arrived to take him to the local police station for a debriefing.

Sgt. Lisa McConnell, spokesperson for the department, says the incident became their case once the suspect was killed. She didn’t know whether or not the sheriff’s department knew the task force was working in their area.

The California Department of Corrections is not required to notify local authorities prior to serving warrants and other arrests. But, ideally, when a multi-agency task force is in action, the local jurisdiction is notified and sometimes asked to assist. This is to avoid what is known as blue-on-blue incidents — uniformed cops shooting at plainclothes cops from other jurisdictions.

CDC spokesperson Patino couldn’t comment on what notification they may have given the sheriff’s department, saying that the case is still under investigation. But he added that the CDC “did everything we are required to do,” when asked if the sheriff’s department was notified in advance.

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brandonarmes Feb. 21, 2013 @ 4:05 p.m.

please im the brother of john armes please if you have any info or were there on this day feb 11 2013 im asking to contact me [email protected] my brother was killed by cops im going as far as it takes action shall be taken


anotherview Feb. 22, 2013 @ 7:38 a.m.

Days after the police shot and killed the fugitive criminal, this Reader rode with the taxi driver Anthony who'd picked up the criminal as his fare. The facts in this news report closely match what the driver told me. The report left out the part where the driver, in fear and in haste, deliberately exited his taxi cab without taking a moment to rotate the ignition key to shut off the vehicle's motor. Rationally, the driver wanted to remove himself quickly from the dangerous situation he found himself in. The driver also told me the shot from the Taser gun apparently missed the fugitive criminal as he sat in the vehicle. Meanwhile, to the others (family members and concerned citizens), let us suspend judgment until all the facts of this incident surface for public review. Of course, anger, speculation, and finger-pointing may serve a segment of the public expressing itself in this matter. But we should also understand and accept the family of the deceased one here will side with him for family reasons. In closing, this Reader wishes others to consider that government has a paramount obligation to maintain public safety. Hence, a fugitive criminal puts himself in harm's way when he sets himself at odds with this obligation.


Javajoe25 Feb. 23, 2013 @ 5:15 p.m.

Oh yea, I can see that. This guy put himself in harms way when he set himself at odds with his obligation. "At odds with his obligation"? And in light of that the police have a right to shoot the man, in the back perhaps, even though he was apparently unarmed, and even though he was not trying to kill anyone but was merely trying to escape. Oh yea, that definitely is "at odds with his obligation" and we know the authorities have a right to shoot him down.

Even the driver said he thought if the guy had a gun he would have pulled it to force him to keep driving. That sounds believable.

But don't you worry, A-view; uniformed services are never held responsible for shooting at or killing people. No one will be held accountable and no one will be punished for murdering a fugitive. Not in this part of the country.


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