New questions are arising after Fabian Herrera's defense attorney, Rajan Maline, told News Channel 3 on Friday that Herrera fired a gun at the command of a Palm Springs Police officer during a tense confrontation the morning of April 23. Herrera, 36, was charged with murder in the killing of David Spann, 33, at Spann's Palm Springs home.
"Mr. Spann was wanted by a bail agency for violating terms of his bail. He was not wanted by the courts, he was not wanted by law enforcement and there was no warrant out for his arrest," Palm Springs Police Lt. William Hutchinson told News Channel 3's Shelby Nelson in a previous interview.
In an exclusive interview with Herrera's attorney on Friday, Maline said "there were 2 officers in the house with Mr. Herrera and they were both in what I would call strategic positions to Mr. Spann, but I believe the male officer was closer to Mr. Spann and Mr. Spann had lunged at the officer and that’s when the command was given to shoot."
Maline said he believes the murder charge filed against Herrera "makes no sense," and that he will be arguing that in court.
"Everything he did that day was the exact opposite of somebody that was guilty would have acted," said Maline.
The morning of the shooting Palm Springs police released a timeline of what led up to Spann's death:
1:47 a.m. Herrera, who is the bail agent in this case, called Palm Springs Police Department and informed us that he was going to Mr. Spann’s home to look for him and attempt to locate him.
2:11 a.m. We got a call from Spann himself saying that someone was trying to break into his home and our dispatchers could hear yelling in the background of that call.
2:13 a.m. The Ring alarm company for Spann’s residence called our dispatch center to report a panic alarm had been triggered at Mr. Spann’s residence.
2:15 a.m. One of the Palm Springs Police Department sergeants hears the call go out at Spann’s residence, realizes that there is somebody there trying to locate him. That sergeant calls Mr. Herrera to see if something is going on, but Mr. Herrera doesn’t answer.
2:17 a.m. Two minutes later Mr. Herrera calls the sergeant back and says that he’s in need of immediate assistance from our agency. Our officers were then dispatched at that time, almost simultaneously with the Ring alarm company call. They arrive moments later.
2:18 a.m. The bail agent tells the sergeant over the phone that Spann is armed with a knife and that he has Mr. Spann at gunpoint.
2:20 a.m. Our officers are already on scene. They announced that Spann is armed with a knife and they’ve deployed a taser. Within a span of anywhere from 14-20 seconds, our officer reports shots fired. That was reporting that the bail agent had fired a shot and that they were requesting medical aid about a minute later.
Maline maintains that Herrera acted in pure self-defense.
"(The officers) didn’t ask (Herrera) to leave, they didn’t say ‘Hey, we’ve got it now, you can leave.’ No, they obviously needed him as well," Maline said.
In a statement Palm Springs Police responded to request for comment:
The Palm Springs Police Department is committed to transparency and to maintain trust with the public it serves.
On April 23, 2021, police officers from the Palm Springs Police Department responded to a 'very chaotic' scene as noted by Chief Reyes in a previous public statement. While our personnel were on scene of this incident, a man identified as David Spann was shot and killed by Fabian Herrera who had identified himself as a bail agent during the course of this investigation.
Because our personnel were actively investigating an incident when a man was shot and had died, PSPD requested the assistance of outside law enforcement to determine if the actions of PSPD personnel and the bail agent were legal and justified. The bail agent, identified as Fabian Herrera was ultimately arrested and charged with murder.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigation and review by the Riverside County District Attorney's Office found no criminal culpability on behalf of any PSPD personnel.
As a law enforcement agency, it is our duty to ensure our actions do not hinder or interfere with a criminal case. It is our responsibility to ensure the integrity of all criminal cases, and so, our public response to specific details of this case must be limited so as to not jeopardize a fair trial for the prosecution and the defendant in this matter, Fabian Herrera. We will not provide comment on specifics related to the actions of the defendant; comments made by involved parties, or provide any information that may prejudicially impact the outcome of a fair and impartial trial.
Meanwhile, the Riverside County Sheriff stated that Herrera was an unlicensed bail agent. His attorney, however, said Herrera did have the proper qualifications to apprehend Spann.
"The legality of what permits he had, I don’t want to get into that, but he was certainly qualified and permitted to do the activity that he was doing. He has the certificates to back that up," said Maline.
The same day Herrera was charged, it was also learned that he is a felon, which prohibited him from carrying a gun. Maline said that Herrera did everything right except for possessing the gun.
"We can’t forget that even though he had this person in a standoff position, he didn’t fire a gun. He didn’t do anything. He waited until the police got there. He called the police and so he had to wait for the police. Remember, he’s trying to do his job. He’s trying to get this fugitive, that’s his job and he was doing a good job of it by keeping him at bay for that amount of time until the police got there," said Maline.
Herrera's mother, Lisa Vargas, remained at large as of Friday. The Riverside County Sheriff issued a warrant for her arrest linked to her involvement in the shooting. She was at the scene of the crime and was helping Herrera, according to authorities.