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After deadly ‘bounty hunter’ encounter, Palm Springs police bans helping bail industry

Palm Springs police issued new guidance on whether its officers will assist bail agents or bounty hunters during fugitive recovery operations.

A department policy issued last month and newly obtained by News Channel 3 says, "Department members shall not assist members of the bail industry in the apprehension of a bail fugitive or any persons wanted for a violation of their bail contract. Department members are strictly prohibited from serving as backup for any member of the bail industry."

A PSPD official said the policy comes in response to the deadly April 2021 shooting in which a Palm Springs resident was killed by an unlicensed bail agent.

David Spann, 33, was killed in his Palm Springs home on April 23, 2021. He was allegedly shot by Fabian Herrera, who police said was not a licensed bail agent and wasn't allowed to have a gun. He was hired by a bail agency to apprehend Spann for violating his bail agreement.

"As we took a deeper dive into that incident, we found that they weren't regulations throughout the state that regulated that industry," said. PSPD Lt. Gus Araiza. "We realized we needed to come up with a best practices policy."

Under the new policy, if there is a court-ordered warrant, officers can take over the situation "in its entirety" to make an arrest, without the help of the bail industry.

"If this policy was in place, before that (April 2021) incident...we would not have provided assistance," Araiza said. "If the subject would have had a warrant then we would ask them to step away, and we would have addressed the issue personally."

Moving forward, Araiza said the department hopes to eliminate the chance of any errors and to clearly divide the roles of bail agents from police. "It was better for our agency...to remove ourselves from the equation to prevent something like this from ever happening again," he said.

Herrera and his mother Lisa Vargas, who was also on scene that night, have pled not guilty to murder charges.

Last week, the District Attorney announced a Palm Springs police officer involved in the deadly shooting will not face criminal charged.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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