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Palm Springs PD Chief’s SUV allegedly taken by auto-shop manager

An auto body shop manager is facing two felony charges after allegedly driving the unmarked police vehicle assigned to Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes.

According to court documents obtained by KESQ News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2, William Leon Menser admitted to taking the Ford Explorer home from his workplace, Rembrandt’s Paint and Body, on Bankside Drive in Cathedral City.

Menser allegedly tried to “conduct an enforcement stop on a citizen,” later revealed to be a city employee, on Ramon Road, admitting that he used “the vehicle’s emergency lights to slow a speeding motorist.” The unmarked vehicle reportedly had its lights and sirens activated.

“It was unusually brave to take a police car, and literally pull people over,” Reyes told KESQ/CBS Local 2. “It was shocking because it was supposed to be picked up just hours before he pulled over a city employee, who then reported it to police.”

A Cathedral City Police Officer who investigated the case wrote in a warrant declaration that Menser did not have the shop owner’s permission to drive the vehicle, but admitted he took it home in late November without the knowledge of the owner or the City of Palm Springs.

Menser allegedly told the investigator that he “took it upon himself to take the Explorer home so
he could take it to the Ford dealer first thing the next morning” because the rear sensors were not working correctly.

“William said once he arrived home, he was able to fix the problem with his scanner tool so he no longer needed to take it to the Ford dealer,” the documents show.

Instead, Menser admitted to taking the vehicle to the gas station, adding $10 worth of gasoline, and also took the SUV to Starbucks.

“William explained the vehicle’s gas light came on while he was on his way in to work so he felt obligated to put gas in the vehicle,” the court document shows.

Menser admitted to refilling the gas on his own dime, “because I took the car home and wasn’t supposed to.”

Menser was arrested Thursday morning in Indio. He is being charged with one felony charge of embezzlement and one felony count of impersonating a peace officer. He is being held at the Riverside County jail in Indio in lieu of $100,000 bail and is expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday.

Menser and a co-defendant were arrested in 2014 for stealing a Glendale Police Department vehicle from the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy. He pleaded guilty later that year to car theft, grand theft auto and receiving stolen property, according to prosecutors. He was also convicted in 2010 for burglary and in 2012 for receiving stolen property and attempted burglary

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