Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch
LA Police Protective League


Los Angeles
Police Protective League
the union that represents the
rank and file LAPD officers

  Daily Local & Regional NewsWatch

Daily News Digest
from LA Police Protective League

February 21, 2020
Law Enforcement News

Former Indiana Officer Dies From Line-of-Duty Injuries
When Officer Aaron Stevens thinks about Officer Kenneth Lester, he thinks about a large man with a big heart. And, he thinks about a friend. Lester, 62, died Feb. 10 at Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis. He sustained debilitating injuries in an on-duty traffic accident Feb. 17, 1995, and complications from those injuries led to Lester's death. As such, he is the fifth Richmond Police Department officer to die from injuries sustained in the line of duty, and the 15th from Wayne County law enforcement agencies. Lester is the first county officer to die in the line of duty since Master Motor Carrier Inspector Bob Pitcher of the Indiana State Police died in an interstate accident Sept. 26, 2010. Lester's funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, at Doan & Mills Funeral Home, 790 National Road W, with Chaplain Tom Canon, the police department's chaplain, officiating. Visitation will be 4-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at the funeral home.
LAPD To Embed 10 Officers At Pacoima’s San Fernando Gardens Through Latest Community-Policing Project
The San Fernando Valley’s only public housing project soon will be home to a new kind of beat cop, and city officials hope the program will show the Los Angeles Police Department’s radical experiment with community policing is still working. San Fernando Gardens — a 1,500-resident, World War II-era development of low-slung, cream-colored apartment blocks located in the heart of Pacoima — will host the city’s latest Community Safety Partnership starting Saturday. Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and other officials will launch the program with a community event at the project. They expect hundreds of residents from around the area to turn out for food and games. In a statement, Rodriguez’s office said the 10 CSP officers and a supervisor will be “tasked with developing positive police-community relationships through sports and educational programs, addressing crime trends in collaboration with community members, and exercising law enforcement duties through a long-term problem-solving approach.”
LAPD Presents Former Tuskegee Airman With First Ever Heroes Among Us Award
In honor of Black History Month, the Los Angeles Police Department Thursday honored an American hero. Lt. Col. Otis Cowley was presented with the first ever Heroes Among Us award. “I’m am so surprised,” Cowley said. “My heart is beating, it feels like I want to cry.” Cowley was a Tuskegee Airman, known to his unit as “Big-O” for his outstanding leadership. He served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War before retiring from the Air Force in 1970. Officers with the LAPD first learned about his story after doing a welfare check. “They discovered this man just in an effort to do a door knock to make sure he was OK and as they learned more about him, they recognized that this was an opportunity for us to build him up and to encourage his heart,” Chief Michel Moore said. Cowley has lived in Los Angeles since 1970, settling in Vermont Square Park.
Security Video Shows At Least 4 Fleeing After Rapper Pop Smoke Fatally Shot, Sources Say
Los Angeles police say at least four people are connected to Wednesday’s shooting death of rapper Pop Smoke at a Hollywood Hills home, law enforcement sources told The Times. Detectives have reviewed security camera video, which the sources said also may have captured images of the getaway car. In addition to home cameras, there are nearby locations that have license plate reader technology that also could aid in the investigation, the sources added. While initial reports described the incident that led to the rapper’s shooting as a home invasion robbery, Los Angeles Police Department officials said they are still trying to sort out what happened. “I am not comfortable calling it a robbery right now,” Robbery Homicide Division Capt. Jonathan Tippet said. “There is a lot of information available. We have some work to do. “We are not ruling out a robbery, but that doesn’t appear based on the evidence to be the motive,” Tippet said.
Man Gets 85 Years To Life For Killing Westlake Carjacking Victim With His Own Truck
A man who carjacked a driver in the Westlake neighborhood before killing him was sentenced to 85 years to life in state prison, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Mitchell Ray Castillo of Los Angeles received the sentence for the Dec. 11, 2017 murder of 54-year-old Ricardo "Rick" Mota, the DA's office told KTLA on Tuesday. A jury found him guilty of first-degree murder and carjacking on Jan. 27. Castillo, 38, came across Mota on the rooftop level of a parking garage near MacArthur Park and the two men got into an altercation — an incident witnesses later described to police. He then stole Mota's Nissan truck and ran him over with the vehicle as he fled. Surveillance footage captured Castillo leaving the garage in the victim's pickup truck.
Sentencing Friday For North Hollywood Man On Drug Conspiracy Charges
A North Hollywood man faces at least nine years behind bars at sentencing Friday for plotting to smuggle more than 88 pounds of cocaine — concealed and suspended in grease — in household products that were mailed to Australia, then laundering up to $3.5 million of the proceeds. Vardges Markosyan — who pleaded guilty to a two-count criminal information in November charging him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and conspiracy to engage in money laundering — admitted that from December 2014 until October 2016, he was involved in a drug conspiracy that procured cocaine and shipped it to Australia. The drugs would be suspended in grease and placed in empty household products such as log splitters, air compressors, tankless water heaters, lamp stands and air conditioners, according to the plea agreement filed in Los Angeles federal court.
Man Faces Prison For $1 Million Scheme That Sent Stolen TVs To Los Angeles
Federal prosecutors in Maryland are recommending a prison sentence of more than five years for a man who pleaded guilty to conspiring to obtain hundreds of stolen televisions, which were shipped to Los Angeles and were worth more than $1 million. Prosecutors explained in a court filing on Saturday why they are recommending a 65-month sentence for Saul Eady. A defense attorney is seeking a three-year prison sentence for Eady, who pleaded guilty in November 2019 to conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud. The government’s calculation of sentencing guidelines in Eady’s case calls for a prison term ranging of 57 to 71 months. U.S. District Judge George Hazel isn’t bound by those guidelines when he sentences Eady at a Feb. 24 hearing scheduled in Greenbelt, Maryland. Eady was one of eight defendants charged in a September 2018 indictment.
Exclusive: Convicted Killer Confesses To Murdering Two Child Molesters In California Prison, Says His Warnings To Guards Fell On Deaf Ears
Jonathan Watson, the California inmate accused of beating two convicted child molesters to death with a cane last month, has publicly confessed to both killings and says he gave prison officials plenty of warning that an attack would come if he wasn’t transferred to a new facility. In a letter to this news organization, Watson, 41, said he murdered David Bobb, 48, and Graham De Luis-Conti, 62, with another inmate’s cane just one week after being transferred to California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison, in Corcoran. Watson wrote that hours before attacking both men, he told a counselor at the prison that he wanted to be transferred, adding that the request was “urgent,” and that he would soon attack an inmate, but said that the warning was ignored. After the first attack, Watson said he was surprised at the lack of response from guards, so he singled out a second “child trafficker” and began beating him. Authorities were unaware of either homicide until Watson located a guard and led him to the bloody scene, he wrote.
To Help Curb Suicide, Virginia Bill Would Let People Ban Themselves From Owning Guns
A bill advancing in the Virginia General Assembly would allow people to voluntarily waive their right to buy a gun as a protection against firearm suicide. It’s an updated version of a first-of-its-kind law enacted in Washington State last year. As The Trace reported in October, many local officials responsible for administering waivers there didn’t know the law existed or didn’t have the waivers on hand. As a result, the Washington law has seldom been used. Fredrick Vars, the University of Alabama law professor who came up with the idea in 2013 and is responsible for proposing it to legislators in both states, said the shortfalls highlighted by The Trace’s reporting led him to revise the pitch he brings to state legislators across the country. Like the Washington measure, the Virginia bill creates a list of prohibited firearm purchasers. People concerned about their risk of buying and misusing a firearm would be able to register with the State Police to be added to the list.

Public Safety News

Horror, Fatigue And Constant Calls: 24 Hours With Skid Row’s Firefighters
A man in tan cargo shorts is lying on the pavement, turning gray with his shirt pulled up to his chest. An ambulance from Los Angeles Fire Department Station No. 9 shoots down an alley and comes to a stop. Firefighters Brian George and Nicolas Calkins pop out and grab an assortment of medical gear. “It’s probably heroin, dude,” George says to Calkins, even before kneeling. They get to work. “He’s breathing,” Calkins says. “Narcan?” “Yeah. I think heroin.” George checks the man’s pulse while Calkins looks for a vein. The man is not breathing well. They inject naloxone, often referred to by the brand name Narcan, into his neck to counteract the overdose. It doesn’t work. George and Calkins respond to thousands of calls like this every month while working at one of the busiest fire stations in the nation, in the heart of one of the most troubled places in Los Angeles: skid row.
Crews Find Body Of 2nd Firefighter Killed In Porterville Library Blaze Allegedly Started By 2 Teens
Crews have found the remains of a second firefighter killed while battling a blaze at a public library in central California allegedly started by two 13-year-old boys, authorities said. The Porterville Fire Department said crews were able to enter the the Porterville Public Library building late Wednesday and found firefighter Patrick Jones’ body. Jones, 25, and Capt. Raymond Figueroa, 35, were killed Tuesday. Jones’ body was escorted early Thursday by police and fire vehicles from the gutted library to the Tulare County coroner’s office. The two firefighters were “consummate professionals,” an emotional Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere said Thursday. A “mayday” was called after both men ran into the burning library to make sure all citizens had been able to escape, Tulare County Fire Capt. Joanne Bear said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Local Government News

North Hollywood ‘Navigation Center,’ A First Step To Housing, Will Provide Showers, Storage For Homeless
Considered the first step in a journey to becoming housed again, a new center that includes showers, bathrooms and storage bins will be available for homeless people in North Hollywood early next month. As the city inches closer to opening more shelters and affordable housing in the San Fernando Valley, the new $5.7 million facility at 11839 Sherman Way, near Lankershim Boulevard, will serve as a “navigation center,” a starting point to getting sheltered, employed and eventually housed. The facility is being billed by elected officials as the first of its kind in the city. But it took significant convincing over the past few years to get it built. “Over the years I’ve had people tell me that this isn’t a solution, that the problem is much bigger than this, and that this is just a band-aid,” said Laurie Craft of Hope of Valley, the operator of the facility.

About the LAPPL Formed in 1923, the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) represents the more than 9,900 dedicated and professional sworn members of the Los Angeles Police Department. The LAPPL serves to advance the interests of LAPD officers through legislative and legal advocacy, political action and education. The LAPPL can be found on the Web at: