This undated photo released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department shows deputy Lawrence Falce. Falce has died after he was punched by a driver after an off-duty traffic accident on New Year’s Eve. The Sheriff’s Department says Falce died Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, in a hospital. Authorities say the 70-year-old deputy and another driver collided Sunday morning near California State University, San Bernardino. (San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

Associated Press
January 4, 2017

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A 70-year-old, off-duty sheriff’s deputy braked to avoid two dogs and was rear-ended by a driver who then got out and delivered a fatal punch, police said Wednesday in announcing a murder charge against the man.

The attack occurred on New Year’s Eve and San Bernardino County sheriff’s Deputy Lawrence Falce was taken off life support two days later.

Surveillance video from a nearby store captured the encounter, which lasted only about a minute.

After the fender-bender, Falce and a man police identified as Alonzo Leron Smith got out of their cars, exchanged words and motioned at each other. Smith then delivered a single punch to the face and Falce fell backward, his head hitting the pavement.

“We believe that he was knocked unconscious almost immediately and he never did regain consciousness,” San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan said at a news conference.

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.

The 30-year-old San Bernardino man pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to murder with special circumstances.

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