Riverside County Sheriff's Department releases video footage of October officer-involved shooting

·2 min read
Three eastbound Interstate 10 between Highway 62 and Indian Canyon Drive near Desert Hot Springs that were closed early Thursday morning reopened around 7 a.m. California Highway Patrol is reporting that traffic is moving slowly and that the closure was due to "heavy police activity" on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.
Three eastbound Interstate 10 between Highway 62 and Indian Canyon Drive near Desert Hot Springs that were closed early Thursday morning reopened around 7 a.m. California Highway Patrol is reporting that traffic is moving slowly and that the closure was due to "heavy police activity" on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

Newly released footage from an October officer-involved shooting shows a man opening fire on police during a traffic stop and high-speed pursuit down Interstate 10 before being fatally shot by officers in Palm Springs.

Russell Leggett Jr., 30, of Idyllwild was fatally shot on the North Indian Canyon offramp of I-10 on Oct. 14. The Riverside County Sheriff's Department reported at the time of the shooting that it was the result of a high-speed pursuit that started on Highway 243 and included officers from multiple agencies.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department released the body camera footage in an edited video posted to its YouTube page Friday.

Sheriff Chad Bianco said in the video that the shooting involved his department and the Banning, Beaumont and Palm Springs police departments.

Leggett fired at a Banning police officer during a traffic stop on Highway 243 at 12:24 a.m. The gunfire disabled the vehicle. The video footage shows the officer pull the car over on the winding mountain road. Soon after, the driver opens the door and fires a weapon at the officer.

"He shot an AR at me," the officer tells dispatch, making reference to the type of firearm believed to have been used.

Minutes after the shooting, Beaumont police officers attempted to stop the vehicle near Interstate 10, but the driver refused to stop, Bianco said, fleeing at a "high rate of speed."

Deputies joined the pursuit as the driver continued to flee eastbound on the highway. Beaumont police body camera footage shows the driver firing several times at officers while continuing to flee.

"He's shooting at us," an unidentified Beaumont police officer said in the footage after several shots can be heard.

Palm Springs police officers then joined the pursuit and the driver pulled over on the North Indian Canyon offramp. Soon after, officers opened fire, Bianco said. It's unclear which officers fired.

Footage from at least three different officers shows dozens of rounds being fired at the vehicle. Footage from a sheriff's department helicopter shows the vehicle had crashed into a fence. The driver can be seen hunched down in the front part of the vehicle and has what appears to be the rifle in hand at one point.

Both the sheriff's department and the Palm Springs Police Department then used armored vehicles to approach the car, Bianco said, because the driver was still inside. Legget was found dead in the car. The rifle and a handgun were found inside the vehicle. Neither weapon had serial numbers, Bianco said.

The county's Force Investigation Detail, a unit comprised of investigators from the DA and sheriff's departments, is investigating the shooting.

Christopher Damien covers public safety and the criminal justice system. He can be reached at christopher.damien@desertsun.com or follow him at @chris_a_damien.

This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Riverside County Sheriff's Department releases video footage of October officer-involved shooting

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