LOS ANGELES (AP) — Prosecutors charged a Los Angeles police officer with felony assault with a firearm Wednesday after he allegedly shot a fellow officer during an off-duty, weekend camping trip. The charge is a reduced offense from when he was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
Ismael Tamayo, 44, of Ontario, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment Wednesday in the San Bernardino County Superior Court in Victorville. Tamayo attended the hearing by video, wearing a mask in jail as his attorney spoke in court.
The judged reduced Tamayo’s bail from $1 million to $250,000. The felony assault charge comes with enhancements for allegedly using a firearm, a Glock .40 caliber handgun, and inflicting great bodily injury on the victim.
The 48-year-old victim, identified in court papers as Mark Mascareno, was shot early Sunday in his upper body in the desert south of Barstow, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said. He was expected to survive. It’s unclear why he was shot.
An off-duty police supervisor was with Tamayo and Mascareno on the camping trip. The supervisor, who has not been identified, was not injured.
Authorities say the three friends were camping and shooting guns at Stoddard Wells Off-Highway Vehicle Area about 120 miles (194 kilometres) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. Stoddard Wells, which offers off-road trails on federal Bureau of Land Management property, is open during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mike Bires, a spokesman for the San Bernardino County district attorney, said prosecutors chose not to use the attempted murder offense Tamayo was booked on and instead went with an assault charge.
“Based on a review of the statements, evidence and investigation, this charge was more applicable,” he said in a statement, declining to comment further.
Tamayo’s attorney, Gregory Yacoubian, said the charge reduction was a move “in the right direction,” and he’s confident his client will be cleared of any wrongdoing.
“He wants to be back at home with his family,” Yacoubian said. “He wishes no ill will to anybody.”
Tamayo served in the Army as a staff sergeant and fighting vehicle infantryman from 1995 to 1998, according to Army records. He was an infantryman with the California Army National Guard from 1999 to 2015, during which he served in Iraq from September 2007 to February 2008.