Whittier Police Officer Killed; Second Officer, Alleged Gunman Wounded

February 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A veteran police officer was shot and killed today and another officer was wounded by a suspected 26-year-old gang member, who had been driving a stolen car and may have been involved in a murder related to the early morning car theft before the fatal gunfire, authorities said.

An emotional Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper told reporters today that the officer killed was Keith Wayne Boyer. Sheriff Jim McDonnell (back) lamented new laws that allow the early release of convicted criminals. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

An emotional Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper told reporters today that the officer killed was Keith Wayne Boyer. Sheriff Jim McDonnell (back) lamented new laws that allow the early release of convicted criminals. (EGP photo by Fred Zermeno)

Paramedics dispatched at 8:17 a.m. to Colima Road and Mar Vista took the two police officers to UCI Medical Center, according to a county fire department dispatcher.

The officer who was shot and killed was Keith Wayne Boyer. Boyer joined the force in 1989 and became a full-time police officer in 1990, Whittier police Chief Jeff Piper told reporters today at a news conference outside the Whittier police station.

The wounded officer was identified as Patrick Hazel, a three-year department veteran, Piper said. He last was reported in stable condition.

Boyer was a divorced father of grown children, a drummer who played in bands for non-profit events and a “personal friend of mine for 25 years,” Piper said.

“He was the best of the best,” Piper said. “He was humble, smiling, positive. He was a great guy and recently talked to me about retiring.”

The impact of this shooting will “last for years. But we’re gonna get through it. This makes us stronger. And everyone needs to know what these officers face on a daily basis,” Piper said as he broke down in tears.

“We have been grieving since 10 a.m. this morning,” Piper said. “I didn’t think I had any more tears left to cry but obviously I do.”

Gathering himself, Piper took aim at laws which have allowed early release of convicted criminals on parole.

“Enough is enough,” Piper said. “We keep passing laws that keep raising crime. We have to think about what we are doing to our communities and officers by putting these kinds of people back on the street.

“You have no idea how things have changed in the last four years,” Piper continued. “People don’t want to follow rules, don’t care about people.”

Piper’s concerns were echoed by Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell who spoke about the passage of new laws that put convicted criminals like today’s shooter out on the street with an early parole.

“AB 109 provides for some early releases. Prop 47 stops people from entering the system and Prop 51 accelerates their release,” McDonnell said.

“County jail has become a default state prison,” McDonnell said. “But people need to be rehabilitated before they get released on to the streets.

There also needs to be drug treatment and treatment for mental illness first. Right now, we are putting people on the streets who are not ready to be on the streets.”

Sheriff’s Lt. John Corina, who is heading up the investigation in the deadly shootout, declined to release the name of the gunman who remains hospitalized in an intensive care unit this afternoon

“It looks like he’s gonna live,” Corina told the assembled reporters.

Corina also said that witnesses have identified the shooter as the possible gunman involved in a murder early this morning involving the stolen car the gunman was driving through Whittier before he had his accident.

However, Corina did not provide any details on that homicide and car theft, which he said occurred in East Los Angeles early this morning.

The shootout began shortly after the unnamed suspect had rear-ended some motorists, disabling the vehicle he was driving. He then asked people in the car he struck to help him move the disabled vehicle, according to Corina.

Police were called to the location, in the area of Colima Road and Mar Vista Street, at 8:04 a.m., according to a Whittier PD watch commander.

Officers arriving at the scene were told by motorists that the suspect was around the corner with the disabled car, Corina said.

When officers approached the suspect, he was sitting in his car. As they asked him out of the car and prepared to pat him down for weapons, he pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and began firing at the officers, Corina said.

The sheriff’s lieutenant said the suspect was Hispanic, a resident of Los Angeles, had been out of prison on parole for about two weeks and was driving a vehicle stolen in East Los Angeles.

The suspect’s gun was recovered at the scene, Corina said.

“Here you have a case where two officers walk up on a vehicle where they believe someone needs medical assistance and they end up in a gunbattle fighting for their lives,” McDonnell told reporters.

A Whittier Police SUV was observed at the scene with a shattered driver’s side window.

Boyer’s body was taken from UCI Medical Center to the Orange County Coroner’s Office this afternoon in a 10-minute motorcade surrounded by police cars and other public safety officers showing their respect.

Traffic was held while the motorcade passed through Orange County streets.

 

Updated: 6:24 p.m.

LAPD Panel Orders Review of Public Disclosure in Police Shootings

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The city Police Commission Tuesday unanimously approved changes to the way the Los Angeles Police Department handles police shootings, including increasing de-escalation training for officers and releasing more information about shootings sooner.

While some other police departments already offer real-life simulation training for officers on a regular basis, the LAPD is in the early stages of offering training that includes “reality-based” drills, according to an Inspector General report presented to the commission Tuesday.

LAPD began rolling out the reality-based training in 2015, with all officers expected to take it by 2017, according to the report. There are no plans yet to offer the training on a regular basis.

The Office of the Inspector General’s report compared the LAPD’s “use-of-force” policies to those of departments in Las Vegas, Dallas, San Diego and Washington, D.C.

According to the report, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department requires patrol officers to undergo four-hour drill-based training two times a year that includes a de-escalation scenario. Dallas Police Department patrol officers must take part in daylong reality-based training annually. And every two years, all officers with the Washington, D.C. police department are required to take a 40-hour training session that uses a “tactical village” scenario drill.

The panel unanimously backed Commission President Matt Johnson and Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa’s recommendations that the department increase and offer reality-based training on a regular basis.

Johnson said he wants to do more training that “takes officers out of the classrooms, away from the computer” and puts them into “real-life interactive scenarios.”

The drills would allow officers to practice reacting to “potentially volatile situations in a controlled environment,” he said.

The OIG also looked into other departments’ practices for releasing details and video footage of police shootings, and found that the Las Vegas department had the most liberal policies.

Las Vegas police officials put out video statements on YouTube a few hours after shootings, according to the OIG report.

Within about three days of a shooting, Las Vegas department officials provide detailed summaries, including the names and tenure of the officers involved, the shooting victim or suspect’s identity and other details, video and 911 recordings, crime scene photographs and information about the evidence that was recovered, according to the OIG report.

The commission Tuesday also approved Johnson and Figueroa-Villa’s recommendation that the department look at “what additional information regarding uses of force, including officer-involved shooting incidents can be released to the public in an expedited fashion and develop a protocol for ensuring the accuracy of the information released.”

Johnson said he believes “we have the obligation to provide the public as much accurate information as is responsible.”

The commission instructed department officials to report back on the recommendations within 90 days.

Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill expressed support for the recommendations, saying that “we have an obligation to review and reconsider if there are ways we can be better.”

Responding to the OIG report, Police Chief Charlie Beck said, “It’s important to look at the other agencies’ experiences so we can make this the best police department that it can possibly be.”

But he cautioned that “state laws are different, that union agreements are different, that demands on police officers vary from city to city, so not one size fits all, but all these things are worth considering.”

He added that he likes that Las Vegas gives out information on “the totality of the investigation” and that the department does a “presentation.”

“I like the fact (the presentation is) available to the public via video so everybody can watch it,” he said. “So I think those things are excellent. Now whether or not we would adhere to the same timeline that they do, their state laws are different… and in fact the volume of work that Las Vegas does is very different than ours too.”

The Las Vegas department serves a population of about 1.5 million people, compared to Los Angeles’ population of 4 million, according to the OIG report.

 

Youth Respond to Officer-Involved Shootings

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

BOYLE HEIGHTS – An officer-involved shooting in Boyle Heights last week that claimed the life of a 14-year-old boy, sparking outrage by many in the eastside neighborhood, has also generated calls for greater investment in program and services for Los Angeles youth.

Dozens of members of the 23 nonprofits that make up the Boyle Heights for Youth Campaign at a press conference last Friday called on city officials to fund a department focused on youth development services citywide.

Standing at the Ross Valencia pocket park across from the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station and Boyle Heights City Hall, the group insisted that investing more city money in programs that keep young people on a productive path and off the streets is the key to reducing crime in the area.

Lou Calanche, executive director at Legacy LA and Boyle Heights for Youth – two groups dedicated to advocating for at-risk youth – told EGP that putting money into after school mentoring, homework help, workforce development, college support and other services targeted at supporting low-income young people is an investment in public safety.

Araceli Rodriguez, 17, talks about the benefits of youth services during a press conference in Boyle Heights last week. (Courtesy of Boyle Heights for Youth)

Araceli Rodriguez, 17, talks about the benefits of youth services during a press conference in Boyle Heights last week. (Courtesy of Boyle Heights for Youth)

Legacy LA, which serves youth in Boyle Heights and the Ramona Gardens Housing Development, strives to give young people an alternative to gangs and violence.

According to police, on Aug. 9, 14-year-old Jesse James Romero shot a handgun in the direction of police who were chasing him on foot in response to a report of vandalism involving “gang writing.”

“According to a witness, who saw the subject running from the officers, the witness saw the subject shoot a handgun in the direction of the pursuing officers,” LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos said during a press conference the next day.

Arcos said the pursuing officers heard a gunshot as they approached a corner during the chase.

“As the officers rounded the corner, one of the officers became involved in an officer-involved shooting,” Arcos said, adding he could not say if the officer who shot Romero was under fire at the time the teen was shot.

According to the LA Times, however, another witness told the news outlet that she saw Romero pull a handgun from his waistband, throw it at a fence and when it hit the ground she heard the weapon fire.

A handgun was recovered from the scene. The investigation is “ongoing.”

It’s these types of tragedies Calanche says Legacy LA and Boyle Heights for Youth want to prevent.

After hearing about Romero’s shooting by police, Brown Beret member Robert Cristo, 24, said he felt compelled to attend Friday’s press conference.

“We were shocked and appalled,” Cristo said. “But this shooting is a clear example of the lack of youth development in the area” that too often leads to tragic outcomes for young people living in working class neighborhoods.

Several protests have been held in the wake of this most recent officer-involved shooting. Romero’s family is demanding justice and they dispute claims that he may have been involved with gangs.

At protest rallies and vigils, area activists decried what they call a rash of police-involved shootings of “Mexican-American youth in Boyle Heights.” Four other officer-involved shootings have taken place since February 2016, “and residents are angry and demanding an end to the police violence,” organizers of a protest rally Saturday at the Hollenbeck Police Station said.

For Calanche and others, the conversation should not just be about blame or whether the teen really had a gun.

“We should be talking about helping youth, not waiting for them to commit a crime,” she told EGP.

Cristo says communities like Boyle Heights that have a problem with gang violence need to deal with the “root of the problem,” which he boils down to a lack of opportunities and alternatives to gangs.

According to 2010 census data, an estimated 1 million people under the age of 24 live in Los Angeles. The City of L.A.’s budget allocates $42 million for youth programs and workforce development, nearly the same amount it spends on animal services, organizers of Friday’s press conference complained.

“The city [of Los Angeles] spends more on the zoos than it does on youth,” said a resentful Araceli Rodriguez, 19.

Nancy Flores believes the city’s budget reflects other priorities.

“With almost half of the city budget going to law enforcement, as a youth in the community, that says to me that we are not the priority to our city officials,” Flores said.

“It’s saying incarcerating us is more important than investing in programs to prevent us from cycling through the system.”

Participation in youth programs is the solution, says Rodriguez, who personally takes part in youth-oriented programs offered in Boyle Heights. But she’s quick to point out that many of her Garfield High School peers don’t have the same support.

A group of protestors ralied outside LAPD’s Hollenbeck station in the wake of an officer-involved shooting in Boyle Heights last week.

A group of protestors ralied outside LAPD’s Hollenbeck station in the wake of an officer-involved shooting in Boyle Heights last week. (Photo by Sol Marquez)

“A lot of youth in this area are first generation,” she said, acknowledging that many of “their parents can’t really help them with school or are busy working.”

Tragically, too often it’s the gangs that become mentors, Calanche lamented.

Rodriguez told EGP she hopes city officials come together and step in soon to turn things around.

“Everyone says that youth are the future, but the city of LA doesn’t invest in us, or our future.”

Teen Killed in Officer-Involved Shooting

August 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

BOYLE HEIGHTS – A 14-year-old boy killed in an officer-involved shooting in Boyle Heights was seen by a witness firing a handgun in the direction of officers before he was shot, police said Wednesday.

No officers were injured in the shooting, which occurred at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday in the area of Breed Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Jesse James Romero of Los Angeles died at the scene, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

At a news conference this morning at police headquarters, LAPD Deputy Chief Robert Arcos said officers had gone to the neighborhood on a report of vandalism involving “gang writing,” and that the suspects were described as being about 14-16 years of age.

Arcos said officers spotted two suspects, and one fled on foot.

“According to a witness, who saw the subject running from the officers, the witness saw the subject shoot a handgun in the direction of the pursuing officers,” Arcos said.

He said the pursuing officers heard a gunshot as they approached a corner during the pursuit.

“As the officers rounded the corner, one of the officers became involved in an officer-involved shooting,” he said.

Arcos told reporters he could not say if the officer who shot Romero was under fire at the time the teen was shot. The investigation was “ongoing” and officers were still being interviewed, he said.

Officers were wearing body cameras, and the recorded images will be part of the investigation, Arcos said. Also, Arcos said he could not say if Romero was involved in gangs.

At the news conference, police displayed a large photo of what they said was a loaded revolver that was recovered at the shooting scene. The handgun is being tested for DNA and fingerprints, Arcos aid.

In an earlier briefing from the scene of the shooting, LAPD Detective Meghan Aguilar said Gang Enforcement Detail officers had gotten into the foot pursuit with suspects in the area of Chicago Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue.

Arcos said that so far this year, the department has had four officers fired upon and two who have been shot.

“The tragedy of this event cannot be understated,” he said. “In a community where violent crime continues to rise, particularly gang crime, this event underscores the need for youth programs and outreach to provide opportunities and alternatives for the youth of our communities.”

Teresa Dominguez, who said she is Romero’s mother, told KPCC radio her son “was a good boy.”

“He didn’t do anything violent,” she said, noting that the family has lived in Boyle Heights for six years, and she works as a vegetable packer.

Lourdes Miranda, who said she knew Romero, told KPCC the teen “was in the gangs” but he was “a good kid.”

“He was smart. He was friendly. He did good in school,” Miranda said.

“Very respectful, never disrespected anyone. Always quiet.”

She added: “Kids are dumb. They think it makes them cool or whatever.”

Ultimately, however, “he didn’t deserve this,” Miranda said.

The shooting was the second on Tuesday that involved LAPD officers. Officers shot and wounded a man shortly after 2 a.m. Tuesday during a traffic stop in the 5500 block of Nordyke Street near Eagle Rock, according to the LAPD.

The suspect in that shooting, a man in his 30s, was hospitalized in stable condition. A handgun was recovered at the shooting scene, police said.

Burglary Suspect Fatally Shot by Police Identified

April 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Update: 11:45am April 15, 2016 Authorities identified Friday a man who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police officers while he held a man at knifepoint in a Boyle Heights apartment as Arturo Valdez, 27, with unknown home town.

He died at the scene, coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said.

Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a burglary suspect who was holding a man at knifepoint in a Boyle Heights apartment, authorities said Monday.

The deceased suspect was described by coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz as a Hispanic man in his mid-to-late 20s.

It happened about 8:30 p.m. Sunday in an apartment in the 200 block of Park Paseo, Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman said.

Officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress at the apartment, according to Eisenman.

“When the officers entered the apartment they saw the suspect holding an elderly man at knifepoint, so they fired and hit the suspect,” she said.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, Eisenman said.

Police set up a command post at Utah Elementary School, near Utah Street and Plaza del Sol, police said.

Deputies Shoot ‘Armed Suspect’ In East L.A.

February 14, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

A deputy-involved shooting in East Los Angeles that left one man dead early Sunday morning is being investigated by Sherriff Homicide Detectives, according to authorities.

The shooting, near the intersection of Whittier Boulevard and Ferris Avenue took place just after 4 a.m., according to a Sherriff’s Department statement.

Deputies were conducting a traffic stop to investigate a possible stolen vehicle when a male passenger in the car became “combative with the deputies and a struggle ensued,” according to the department.

The suspect was armed and attempted to reached for his weapon during the struggle, deputies said.

The suspect refused “several commands” to comply with deputies’ orders and continued to struggle, to stop reaching for his weapon, and was fatally shot.

The suspect, described as 29-year-old male Hispanic, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The suspect’s name has not yet been released.

According to authorities, a 22-caliber revolver was recovered at the scene.

Two additional occupants in the vehicle have been detained, according to authorities.

A four-block stretch of Whittier Boulevard remained closed at 10:00 a.m. as homicide detectives investigated the shooting.

Anyone with information was asked to call the LASD Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those wishing to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 or by using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org .

Off-Duty LAPD Officer Wounds ‘Armed Suspect’ In Montecito Heights

December 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

An armed man who allegedly confronted an off-duty LAPD officer today in the Montecito Heights area of Los Angeles was critically wounded in an officer-involved shooting, police said.

The shooting occurred at 2:41 a.m. in the 500 block of Wheeling Way, said Los Angeles Police Department Officer Ricardo Hernandez.

The 500 block of Wheeling Way in Montecito Heights was closed off Monday morning following an officer involved shooting.  (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The 500 block of Wheeling Way in Montecito Heights was closed off Monday morning following an officer involved shooting. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

The officer who opened fire was off-duty at the time and not injured, Hernandez said. The suspect was taken to a hospital in critical condition.

The officer was “securing his vehicle” when the shooting occurred, LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said.

“It was at that time, while he was at his vehicle, he was confronted by an armed male suspect, and an officer-involved shooting followed,” Montgomery said.

Man Killed in Shooting Identified

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Authorities Wednesday identified a knife-wielding man who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in Lincoln Heights.

The shooting occurred at 4:17 p.m Tuesday in the 3400 block of Manitou Avenue, said Officer Jack Richter of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section. No officers were hurt.

Luis Martinez, 35, of Los Angeles died at the scene, said coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

Officers went to the location in response to a report from a female relative of the man, who said he had stabbed himself, said LAPD Lt. John Jenal, also of media relations.

Arriving officers saw the man holding “a large hunting knife,’’ and they ordered him to drop it, but he did not comply, Jenal said.

“He charged at the officers, and an officer-involved shooting occurred,” Jenal said.

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