San Bernardino

California Man Sentenced for Fatally Punching Deputy

Falce worked 36 years as a deputy sheriff. He also coordinated search-and-rescue volunteers.

A driver who was videotaped fatally punching a 70-year-old San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy after a New Year's Eve traffic accident was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

Alonzo Leron Smith, 31, pleaded no contest in December to voluntary manslaughter and other felonies in the off-duty death of Lawrence Falce.

At the sentencing last week, Falce's family asked that Smith be housed in a facility closer to his family so his children can visit him, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

"I may never know why Alonzo did what he did or what set him off, but he has a chance to make better choices going forward," said Falce's sister, Marjorie Falce-Jorgensen. "My hope for Alonzo is that he will learn to appreciate life and those he has in it."

Surveillance video from a nearby store captured the encounter, which lasted about a minute on Dec. 31, 2017.

After a fender-bender, Falce and Smith got out of their cars, exchanged words and motioned at each other.

Smith then delivered a single punch Falce's face and he fell backward, his head hitting the pavement. Falce never regained consciousness and died two days later at a hospital.

Smith got back in his Ford Explorer and the video showed a truck ramming it to try to keep him from driving off. Smith managed to drive away but was arrested hours later, police said.

Falce worked 36 years as a deputy sheriff. He also coordinated search-and-rescue volunteers.

Falce was the oldest member of the 3,700-member department, which does not have a mandatory retirement age but requires deputies to pass training exercises several times a year to ensure they still can do the job, sheriff's spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said at the time.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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