A driver who was killed when officers opened fire Tuesday after a pursuit by Santa Ana police was identified as a parolee from Aliso Viejo, police said Wednesday.
Kevin Rene Powell, 41, had a history of weapons and narcotics violations, and an arrest warrant had been issued for felony evading and narcotics violation, Cpl. Jose Gonzalez said.
Powell allegedly stole a sport-utility vehicle Tuesday that had a tracking system that gave its position to a company. The company then notified police. Powell sped away when police tried a traffic stop near 4th and Main streets in Santa Ana, Gonzalez said.
After going down an embankment of the 55 Freeway at MacArthur Boulevard, the man was shot by eight to 15 officers who fired as many as 20 shots toward the vehicle, witnesses said.
"Our officers fired, and at this point the subject's actions were not clear," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez did not disclose whether Powell had a gun or why officers fired during and at the end of the chase.
He referred questions to the district attorney's office, which investigates officer-related shootings. A spokeswoman declined to discuss the probe, citing district attorney policy.
The shooting death prompted calls for police to explain why they drew and fired their weapons at Powell, said Najee Ali, a Los Angeles community activist. Witnesses told television reporters that Powell did not have a weapon, Ali said.
Ali and other civil rights activists who have monitored police use of deadly force were concerned that police may have overreacted in Powell's case, he said.
If Powell was armed, police should have said so, Ali said.
"We've seen several motorists who have been pursued by police in Southern California, and it's very rare that these pursuits ended in deadly force," he added.
Ali, with Project Islamic HOPE, said the group and other activists today planned to call for a federal investigation into Powell's death.
"We're not defending anyone who breaks the law, but we can't allow police officers to chase crooks and then become the judge, the jury and executioner," he said.
Gonzalez, who was told of Ali's remarks, said he was barred from making any comment about evidence or the officers' actions because of the district attorney's investigation.
Powell's passenger, Rebecca Ana Guzman, 22, of Riverside, was taken into custody and later arrested on suspicion of parole violation, Gonzalez said. According to police, Guzman's criminal history included vehicle theft and narcotics violations.