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

November 13, 2020
Law Enforcement News

Arkansas Police Officer Fatally Shot, Suspect Sought
A police officer in eastern Arkansas has been fatally shot by a man suspected in an earlier shooting, authorities said. Helena-West Helena officers stopped an SUV on Thursday night when Latarius Howard, 29, got out and opened fire, striking one officer who later died at a hospital, according to Police Chief James Smith. The officer’s name was not immediately released. Smith said a second officer at the scene was not injured as Howard fled in the vehicle from the city about 100 miles (161 kilometers) east of Little Rock. It was not clear whether the officers returned fire and police did not immediately return a phone call for comment Friday. Howard was sought in connection with a Nov. 1 assault and shooting that wounded a man in Helena-West Helena.

One Injured In South Los Angeles Shooting
One person was wounded Thursday evening in a shooting in South Los Angeles. The shooting occurred near Figueroa Street and Gage Avenue about 10:10 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The victim got into a vehicle and went to a hospital in unknown condition, police said. A motive for the shooting and description of the shooter were not immediately available.

Chase Suspect In Custody After High-Speed Pursuit Ends With Brief Standoff On Residential Street In Inglewood
After leading Los Angeles police on a high speed chase through West L.A. on Thursday afternoon, a driver was taken into custody without incident following a brief standoff with officers after the pursuit ended on a residential street in Inglewood. The driver initially refused to exit the vehicle, which was stopped in front of a home near Inglewood Avenue and 99th Street as multiple LAPD patrol cars were positioned in a phalanx behind the sedan. Authorities said chase began when officers responded to a report of a disturbance by a man with a gun. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., about 20 minutes after the standoff began, the unidentified driver exited the sedan and lay face-down on the pavement as police approached with their guns drawn. He was then handcuffed and taken away.

Several Arrested In LAPD SWAT Gambling Raid In Van Nuys
Several people were arrested Thursday night as a SWAT team and vice unit detectives served a search warrant in Van Nuys. The warrant was served about 6:50 p.m. in the 14500 block of Archwood Street, near the intersection of Vanowen Street and Van Nuys Boulevard, according to Officer William Cooper of the Los Angeles Police Department. The nature of the warrant was related to an illegal gambling operation, an LAPD officer said. At least 18 people were detained, according to KCAL9, which reported that people were being dragged out of the building and some were hiding in the rafters. Multiple arrests were made as a result of the operation, an LAPD officer said, though the precise number of arrests was not immediately available.

San Pedro Man Denies Charges He Ran Kidnapping Scam From Mexican Prison
A San Pedro man imprisoned in Mexico ran a “virtual kidnapping” scheme that duped dozens of Americans into paying ransoms to free family members who were never actually kidnapped, according to federal prosecutors. Julio Manuel Reyes Zuniga, 48, appeared in a Los Angeles court on Thursday after being extradited this week from Mexico. He pleaded not guilty to 31 counts, including extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, foreign communication of threats and conspiracy to launder money, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Reyes Zuniga, a reputed member of the Rancho San Pedro street gang, ran the scheme from 2015 to 2018 while he was locked up for murder at the Santa Martha Acatitla Prison near Mexico City, prosecutors said. He finished his sentence earlier this year and was held for extradition in the extortion case. Reyes Zuniga and co-conspirators used smuggled cellphones to call their victims and claim they had kidnapped a loved one and planned to harm the person unless a ransom was paid, according to the indictment. In reality, no kidnappings had taken place.

Ten Charged In $30-Million Money Laundering Scheme Based In San Fernando Valley
Ten people were indicted on charges alleging they ran an intricate money-laundering operation involving tax fraud, federal authorities said Thursday, Nov. 12. The defendants are accused of filing more than $30 million in tax refunds, from about 7,000 fraudulent tax returns, filed from stolen taxpayer identities, officials said. Most are from the San Fernando Valley. Authorities were still looking for three defendants Thursday afternoon, a Department of Justice news release states. Gagik Airapetian, who authorities allege led the scheme, is accused of directing others to use altered foreign passports, the release states. Most came from the Republic of Armenia, with fake photos altered on top of real passport-holders’ pictures, authorities said. The documents were used to rent mailboxes and open more than 500 bank accounts for money laundering, the release states.

LA Comedian Loses $2,000 In West Hollywood Rental Scam
A rental scam involving a West Hollywood apartment was no laughing matter for an LA comedian. Vicki Eisenstein says she thought she was looking at a great West Hollywood apartment for a spectacular deal at $1,100 a month. However, the listing agent said he couldn’t show the apartment in person because of COVID-19. The agent wanted to complete the new tenant process online, which included a $2,000 deposit. When Eisenstein tried to move in, there were no keys, and she discovered a tenant in the apartment who had no idea his apartment had been rented out. Anyone else searching for an apartment can protect themselves from similar scams by verifying the rental company online, comparing prices, taking a tour of the property and visiting the location to look for signs with the name of the property owner or manager.

Man Arrested In Hate Crime At Beverly Hills Restaurant; Other Suspects Sought
A man was arrested Thursday in connection with a hate crime at a Beverly Hills restaurant in which several suspects assaulted employees and damaged the business. The incident occurred around 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Cafe Istanbul located in the 300 block of South Beverly Drive, near Gregory Way, according to Lt. Max Subin of the Beverly Hills Police Department. William Stepanyan, 22, of Glendale, was arrested in Glendale and booked on suspicion of committing a hate crime, robbery and burglary, police said. He was in custody on a probation hold without bail, and scheduled to appear in court on Monday in the Airport Courthouse. “A joint investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Los Angeles County Probation Department resulted in the arrest of one of the primary suspects responsible for (the) hate crime,” Beverly Hills police said in a statement.

Man Suffering From Schizophrenia Reported Missing From Lawndale
Sheriff's detectives sought the public's help in finding a 21-year-old man suffering from schizophrenia who went missing from Lawndale. Durrell Dramon Christy was last seen about 9 p.m. Monday at his residence in the 14600 block of Avis Avenue, near Prairie Avenue, Deputy Eric Ortiz said. Christy is African American, 5 feet 4 inches tall, about 150 pounds, with a black afro and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt and gray shorts. Anyone with information on his whereabouts was asked to call the sheriff's Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500 or 911. Tipsters can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

Public Safety News

Pilot Killed After Small Plane Crashes Near Whiteman Airport In Pacoima
The pilot of a single-engine plane has died after crashing into a residential area in Pacoima. The crash was reported just before noon Thursday at the intersection of Sutter Ave. and Pierce St., right across the street from Whiteman Airport. The Los Angeles Fire Department says the crash caused two cars to catch on fire and damaged a third. The fire spread to trees and vegetation in front of a residential home, but firefighters were able to protect the house and moved the fire away from any downed power lines. According to neighbors who live near the crash scene, the loudest sound was the plane exploding in front of their home, fiery pieces scattering all over. The plane was on approach to land when something went wrong. According to traffic scanners, the plane appeared to have lost engine power. The pilot was the sole occupant of the aircraft.

Fire Crews Extinguish Watts Apartment Fire In Under 20 Minutes
A fire broke out Thursday evening in an apartment unit in Watts, but fire crews extinguished the contents-only blaze in under 20 minutes. The fire was reported about 6:20 p.m. in the 2000 block of East 101st Street, near Grape Street, according to Nicholas Prange of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Twenty-eight firefighters conducted an aggressive interior fire attack, Prange said. By 6:40 p.m., the fire was out, and no injuries were reported, according to Prange. The cause of the fire was being investigated.

L.A. Officials Warn Of More Drastic Restrictions, Urge Holiday Travel Quarantine, As COVID-19 Surges
With coronavirus infections continuing to surge in California ahead of Thanksgiving, public health officials urged those who travel during the holiday to quarantine for 14 days and said more drastic restrictions could be necessary if case rates continue to rise. The urgent warnings come after economic reopenings were rolled back in some parts of the state and it became clear that hard-hit places such as Los Angeles County would not see their restrictions eased for the foreseeable future amid the widespread COVID-19 pandemic. After declining earlier in the fall, California’s weekly cases have doubled in the past month. The Golden State is now averaging about 6,300 new cases a day over the past week, up from about 3,200 a month ago, according to a Times analysis. COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen 50% in the last month, and the coronavirus positive test rate has climbed by nearly 70%, with 4.4% of test results coming back positive over the past week, up from 2.6% a month ago.

Local Government News

Garcetti, Facing Daunting Challenges In L.A., Could Seek Exit In Biden White House
Less than two years ago, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti took the stage at an L.A. Live club to announce a tourism milestone: A record number of visitors were coming to the L.A. region, flocking to the city for its restaurants, art museums and hip neighborhoods. It marked a high point not just for the city but also for its mayor, who had won a landslide reelection and was riding a wave of interest in L.A. that had Garcetti pitching himself as a possible presidential contender. Today, the nightclub remains closed because of the pandemic. The nearby Los Angeles Convention Center, which has doubled this year as a field hospital and a staging ground for the National Guard, is now being eyed as a homeless shelter. Tourism has dried up, homicides are rising, and Garcetti and other political leaders are grappling with plunging revenues for City Hall and the possibility of layoffs of city workers. While the city is in crisis, Garcetti is also facing a personal crossroads. If he leaves L.A. for a possible position in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration — as there is widespread speculation he might — the mayor would exit the city at a moment of profound crisis.

McMansions For The Homeless: Some LA Tents Are So Big They Have Showers, AC And Even Tiki Bars
One tent near downtown LA occupied by a homeless man had a working shower, kitchen, water heater, electricity and even a doorbell. In Hollywood, another tent installed a 15-foot slide for entertainment. And, in Venice, a tent had its own wading pool, while another had its own tiki bar to serve drinks to other homeless people. Residents and business owners in these areas call these "McMansion tents," and say they've created dangerous living conditions for the people inhabiting them, and serious public health and safety problems for everyone else. "When did these stop being our sidewalks? When did they stop being the public's sidewalks?" said Estela Lopez, who heads the Central City East Business Improvement District. "We can't have the city turn its back and surrender its jurisdiction over the safety of our sidewalks." When the pandemic began, the city of LA decided to leave most homeless tents alone, and to leave alone the "bulky items" that often block the sidewalks near tents, like sofas and mattresses. Many tents now have running water because they've illegally tapped into city fire hydrants for a water source and some have electricity because they've tapped into city street lights.

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: