Reputed Gang Member Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ In Slaying of Whittier Cop

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

A reputed gang member charged with killing a Whittier police officer and wounding the officer’s partner after gunning down his own cousin in February pleaded not guilty Monday during an arraignment hearing in Norwalk.

Michael Christopher Mejia, 26, appeared in court in connection with the Feb. 20 killings of Officer Keith Boyer, 53, and his own cousin, 47-year-old Roy Torres, in East Los Angeles earlier the same day.

Mejia is charged with two counts of murder, which include the special circumstance allegations of murder of a peace officer in the performance of his duties, murder for the purpose of avoiding arrest and multiple murders.

After entering his pleas, Mejia was ordered to return to court May 30 for a preliminary hearing meant to enable a judge to decide whether there’s enough evidence to warrant a trial.

(LASD)

(LASD)

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty against Mejia, who is also charged with one count each of attempted murder of a peace officer, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon with two prior convictions — second-degree robbery in 2010 and grand theft auto in 2014.

The charges include allegations that Mejia personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and that he committed the crimes “for the benefit of, at the direction of, and in association with a criminal street gang.”

Boyer — the first Whittier officer killed in the line of duty in about 37 years — was fatally shot when he responded shortly after 8 a.m. Feb. 20 to a report of a traffic collision near Colima Road and Mar Vista Street in which Mejia had allegedly been involved.

Mejia allegedly pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and fired at Boyer as well as Officer Patrick Hazell, who was shot in the abdomen but survived. Mejia was shot in the back during the shootout.

About 5:30 that morning, Mejia allegedly gunned down his cousin and took the victim’s car, which he crashed into two other vehicles in Whittier.

Thousands of law enforcement officers, friends and family members attended Boyer’s funeral on March 3. He was remembered as a dedicated public servant who had been with the police department for 27 years, a talented drummer, loving friend and even a “goofy” father of three adult children.

Whittier police Chief Jeff Piper broke down in tears as he concluded his remarks at Boyer’s funeral at Calvary Chapel Downey.

“Keith’s memory will live forever in the halls of our department and in the minds of everyone who knew him, for you see Keith was a hero, and they say heroes never die, they live forever,” the police chief said.

Mejia had recently been released from jail. Piper and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell have both suggested that Mejia was back on the streets due to recent voter-approved propositions that reduce criminal penalties and allow for early release of inmates. Los Angeles County began investigating parole and probation records for Mejia after his arrest in February.

 

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.

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