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Relatives of man killed by police seek answers

July 01, 2007|David Reyes | Times Staff Writer

The actions of a man fatally shot by Newport Beach police after he rammed their patrol car baffled relatives, who said Saturday they questioned whether he had intended to do any harm.

"We just had a big family reunion a week ago," said Chris Bissonnette, 28, of Berkeley, sister of Jason Richard Bissonnette, 38, of Huntington Beach.

"There was nothing to indicate he would be violent to anyone," she added.

During the weeklong get-together at Shasta Lake, her brother was upbeat and spoke positively about his upcoming marriage, she said.

"We are having a hard time believing he would harm a police officer," she added.

Bissonnette died Friday after a pursuit by police, who had tried to stop him at Jamboree Road and East Coast Highway in Newport Beach about 12:45 a.m. He was suspected of driving while intoxicated.

The pursuit ended about four minutes later at a cul-de-sac in Costa Mesa when he drove his Mercedes-Benz into a patrol car and officers then opened fire, authorities said.

Police have said the officers responded to what they thought was a deadly threat.

Family members were en route to Orange County to make funeral arrangements.

"Our No. 1 goal and aim is to get to the bottom of what actually happened," said Bissonnette's aunt, Marilyn Wasson of Portland, Ore. "It seems like a completely unnecessary loss of life.

"This has been devastating to the family," she said.

Bissonnette grew up in the San Fernando Valley and joined the Navy after high school. He had his own mortgage business, which he ran from a home office.

He had had previous run-ins with authorities, his sister said, but she did not elaborate.

"I really don't know what ran through his mind, but I think that in that moment he may have thought of the disappointment he would cause to his fiancee and his family," she said.

The shooting is under investigation by the Orange County district attorney's office.

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david.reyes@latimes.com

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