A body shop worker, who allegedly stole Palm Springs police Chief Bryan Reyes’ patrol vehicle from the Cathedral City body shop where the ex-con worked, is facing new charges related to his alleged unlawful ownership of guns, ammunition and other prohibited items.
William Leon Menser, 26, of Indio, is accused of taking Reyes’ SUV last November while it was undergoing body work repair at Rembrandt’s Paint and Body, then using the vehicle to try to attempt a traffic stop on a man in Cathedral City, according to an arrest warrant declaration.
Menser’s scheduled arraignment Wednesday morning on charges of embezzlement and a misdemeanor count of impersonating a police officer was postponed to May 2 to give him time to retain a private attorney.
Menser, who worked as an “estimator/manager” at the body shop, told investigators that he took the SUV home because he noticed the rear sensors were malfunctioning and had planned to drive it to a Ford dealer “first thing the next morning,” but was able to fix the issue himself using his scanner tool, according to the declaration.
He later took the SUV to a car wash, a Starbucks and a gas station, where he said he pumped $10 worth of gas, and admitted using the SUV’s emergency lights to slow a driver who was speeding, according to the document.
Menser was arrested Jan. 4 near Monroe Street and Interstate 10 in Indio, one day after prosecutors filed charges against him.
Later that day, investigators served a search warrant at his home, where they found guns and boxes of ammunition, according to a newly filed arrest warrant declaration. Guns, ammunition and a Palm Springs Police Department baseball cap were found in the trunk of his car, according to the document.
Officers also seized items typically used by law enforcement personnel, including a Taser, spike strip, collapsible baton, federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives badge and a Palm Springs Police Department citation book, “with several citations missing in it,” the declaration states.
Menser was released on $100,000 bail before he could be arraigned on the embezzlement and officer impersonation counts. On Monday, prosecutors filed new charges against Menser that include being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The Palm Springs PD incident is not the first time that Menser has been accused of stealing a police vehicle, according to prosecutors. In 2014, Menser and a co-defendant were arrested 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.