A La Quinta man accused of stabbing a Riverside County sheriff's deputy in the leg during a scuffle in Palm Desert pleaded not guilty today to two counts of attempted murder on a peace officer and other felony charges.
Christian Matthew Choi, 50, was arrested March 30 in the area of El Paseo and Lupine Lane following the alleged altercation that left the deputy with a non-life-threatening stab wound.
Along with attempted murder on a peace officer, Choi faces charges of robbery, resisting an executive officer and assault with a deadly weapon, along with several weapon and great bodily injury sentence-enhancing allegations.
Choi was arraigned before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Burke Strunsky, who scheduled a May 10 felony settlement conference at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Strunsky ordered the defendant held on $2 million bail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. He also ordered that the defendant be evaluated by a mental health professional.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, deputies were sent to the location about 1:15 p.m. looking for a man who was assaulting shoppers in the area of Highway 111 and Las Palmas Avenue.
Sgt. Christopher Ternes said deputies spotted Choi, who matched the suspect description, and that when they attempted to approach him, he allegedly began to fight with the deputies.
"The suspect armed himself with a knife and stabbed one of the deputies in the leg,'' Ternes alleged.
Deputies unsuccessfully attempted to subdue the suspect using stun guns, according to the sergeant. Choi allegedly tried to stab the deputy again before they managed to get him into custody, he said.
The deputy, whose name was withheld, was taken to a hospital and has since been released.
Choi was transported to a hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries. Court papers allege the two counts of attempted murder on a peace officer involve two separate deputies, although the sheriff's department has not provided information on the circumstances surrounding the defendant's interaction with the second deputy.
A knife was recovered at the scene and booked into evidence, Ternes said.
Choi has no documented felony convictions in Riverside County, but he does have several unresolved misdemeanor cases comprising trespassing, vandalism and resisting arrest charges.