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

January 14, 2021
Law Enforcement News

LAPD Sergeant Dies Of COVID-19 As Virus Rages Through Department
A 53-year-old Los Angeles police sergeant died Tuesday from complications related to COVID-19 — the second such death in a week for a department that, like the city around it, is being ravaged by the coronavirus. In the last three weeks alone, nearly 1,000 of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 13,000 employees have tested positive, according to department leaders. Sgt. Amelia “Terry” Martinez, a mother of three who was described by the department as “a bright shining star” in the Hollenbeck Division, is the fifth LAPD employee overall to die as a result of contracting COVID-19. She had been with the department for 27 years. “Her passing is a loss for not only her brothers and sisters here in the Department, but for the people of Los Angeles who she dedicated her life to protecting and serving,” the department said in a statement. The death comes as COVID-19 cases have surged across the Los Angeles region and in the Police Department, which is gearing up to vaccinate officers soon. LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that as of Tuesday, 2,229 LAPD personnel had tested positive for the virus — an increase of 964 from just three weeks prior. Moore said six were in the hospital, and nearly 900 were recuperating at home, with two-thirds of the infections among sworn officers.

Good Samaritan Comes To The Rescue Of 2 LAPD Officers In Brutal Attack
Two LAPD officers are being praised by witnesses for their restraint after being brutally attacked by a suspect swinging a chain with padlock on the end of it. Police were called by Westchester residents because the suspect was allegedly exposing himself to children and threatening neighbors. Both officers were pummeled by the suspect and a Good Samaritan stepped in to help. The suspect was eventually subdued and taken to jail. We're trying to confirm whether those officers were injured. The Good Samaritan in the red hat came running up to help out.

Suspect Arrested In Deadly Car-To-Car Shooting In Fairfax Neighborhood
A 27-year-old man has been arrested in a deadly car-to-car shooting that occurred in the Fairfax neighborhood Tuesday. The incident took place near the intersection of Melrose and North Fairfax avenues about 2:30 p.m., according to a news release from the Los Angeles Police Department. The victim self-transported to a local hospital after the shooting and reported that a vehicle pulled up alongside him and fired a shot. The suspect, driving what was described as a white SUV with tinted windows, then drove away westbound on Melrose Avenue. The victim, who has not been identified, later died at the hospital. Investigators located the possible suspect vehicle in the 900 block of Westmount Drive in West Hollywood at about 10:40 p.m. that same day, the Police Department stated. Two subjects were detained and following further investigation, 27-year-old Robert Antrel Love was arrested on suspicion of murder, police said. Anyone with additional information is asked to contact detectives at 213-382-9470. 

Teen Killed In Pacoima Shooting Identified
A 15-year-old boy who was fatally shot in Pacoima this week was identified Wednesday by authorities. The shooting happened just before 6 p.m. Monday in the 12700 block of Van Nuys Boulevard, near Borden Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The teen, identified Wednesday by the coroner’s office as Giovanii Ramirez, was found by responding officers in the grass outside an apartment complex with multiple gunshot wounds. Two people who matched the descriptions of the suspects were apprehended that night by officers investigating in the area, said Officer Mike Lopez with the Los Angeles Police Department. The officers also recovered a firearm. The suspects — Walter Smith, 21, and Ja’Ree Robertson, 18 — were taken into custody on suspicion of murder, according to investigators. Their bail was set at $2 million each.

Body Found On 5 Freeway In Boyle Heights
A body was found Tuesday night on the northbound 5 Freeway transition road to the eastbound 10 Freeway in Boyle Heights. The body was found around 9:45 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol. It was unknown how the body ended up on the freeway. The connector ramp from the northbound 5 Freeway to the eastbound 10 Freeway was temporarily closed. The age, gender and name of the victim were not disclosed.

Rancho Palos Verdes Mom Gets 14-Year Sentence For Death Of Toddler Left In Car For Hours With Heater On
A Rancho Palos Verdes woman was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years and eight months in state prison for the death of her 2-year-old daughter, who was left alone in a car for hours with the heater on in 2019, officials said. Lacey Ana Mazzarella, 35, pleaded no contest on Oct. 20, 2020, to one count each of voluntary manslaughter, mayhem and child abuse resulting in death, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Mazzarella had previously pleaded not guilty the year before to one count each of murder and child neglect resulting in death. Just before midnight on Sept. 22, 2019, Mazzarella left her 2-year-old daughter, June Love Agosto, in a car, covering her with a blanket and turning the heater on. Meanwhile, the mom drank alcohol in another nearby vehicle with a friend until she “passed out,” the DA’s office said. The following morning, deputies responded to a report of a “baby not breathing” in the 22400 block of South Vermont Avenue in West Carson, and found the child unresponsive, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The toddler was taken to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

LA County District Attorney George Gascón Taking Heat Over Policies
Opposition to the policies of new Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is growing. Some families of victims and victims’ advocates have criticized Gascón, a former police chief, for being too soft on crime following his elimination of criminal enhancement provisions. Ryan Verna, a retired LAPD homicide detective, said Gascón’s office is handling his father’s murder case and he’s concerned he won’t see justice. Verna’s father, LAPD motor officer Paul Verna, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 1983 during a traffic stop. Verna says he recently got a call from the D.A.’s office about one of the men convicted for the murder. “I’m ashamed he wore the same uniform that I did for so many years,” Verna said. “He basically told me he’s going to have to go into court and argue to dismiss the special circumstances in furtherance of justice. My question is what justice is that?” Verna is not alone in opposition to Gascón’s special directives. Upon taking office, Gascón’s announced that prosecutors would no longer pursue the death penalty, try juveniles as adults, seek cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent crimes, or add gang and other enhancements to criminal complaints. Verna’s biggest fear is what this will mean in the case of his father’s killer. “Ultimately he’s going to figure out a way to either (a) plead it out and it will be a time served situation, or (b), just dismiss it,” Verna said. D.A. Gascón later amended his directive to allow sentencing enhancements in cases like hate crimes, crimes against children and the elderly and other crimes that meet certain criteria. However, the union representing L.A. County prosecutors says that’s not enough. They filed a civil lawsuit challenging the D.A.’s directives and some sentencing enhancements. Prosecutors say the moves violate state law.

An L.A. Councilman Lied To The FBI. Probation Officials Say He Deserves No Jail Time
It was the first blockbuster case to surface in the federal corruption probe of Los Angeles City Hall — a multi-count indictment accusing former Councilman Mitchell Englander of taking envelopes of cash, lying to the FBI about that money and obstructing its investigation. Englander, while serving in office, made false statements to FBI agents during three separate interviews, prosecutors said, providing untrue information about his dealings with a businessman who gave him $15,000 in two casino bathrooms. The case was resolved quickly, with Englander pleading guilty to a single count of scheming to falsify material facts. But now, prosecutors are voicing objections to the sentence recommended by federal probation officials: three years’ probation, a $9,500 fine and no jail time or community service. Such a mild sentence, prosecutors said, would represent a “two-tier system of justice,” showing that white-collar defendants receive more lenient treatment than other criminals. Englander, they said, obstructed their investigation and violated two oaths — one he took as an elected official, the other as a reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Sheriffs Search For Missing Transient Woman, 42
Sheriff’s detectives Wednesday asked for the public’s assistance to find a 42-year-old transient woman suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder who went missing. Maisha Renee Criner was last seen by her family on March 20, 2020, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reported. Criner could be in Lancaster, Los Angeles or the Moreno Valley, the LASD reported. Criner is Black, 5 feet 4 inches and about 140 pounds, the LASD said. She has brown hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on her whereabouts was asked to call the Sheriff’s Department’s Missing Persons Bureau at 323-890-5500 or 911. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Deputies Searching For Inglewood Man Missing Since Aug. 2020
Authorities on Tuesday asked for the public's help locating a man who has been missing for more than four months and was last seen in Inglewood. Larry Earl Morrison, 72, was last seen Aug. 28 near Randy's Donuts at 805 W. Manchester Blvd., close to La Cienega Boulevard, said Deputy Eva Jimenez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Jimenez said Morrison "lives a transient lifestyle and frequents the Inglewood area." He is described as 6 feet, 1 inch tall and 175 pounds with gray, shoulder-length curly hair and brown eyes. Morrison is also missing a front tooth, Jimenez said. The department urged anyone with information on Morrison's whereabouts to call Detective MatthewPereida at 323-890-5500.

3 Of 6 Escaped California Inmates Now Captured: Sheriff
Three of the six escaped inmates who broke out of a jail in Merced have been re-captured. The Merced County sheriff's office says two inmates were captured Tuesday in the San Diego area, and a third -- Edgar Eduardo Ventura, 22, of Portland, Oregon, was captured Tuesday, west of Fresno. Ventura was in jail on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm, participation in a criminal street gang and a probation violation. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The other two in custody: Andres Nunez Rodriguez Jr., 21, of Planada, charged with attempted murder; and Fabian Cruz Roman, 22, of Los Banos, charged with murder. Staff at Merced County Downtown Jail noticed late Saturday that the six inmates were missing, the sheriff’s office said. "A preliminary investigation has determined that the inmates were able to gain access to the roof of the facility and utilize a homemade rope to scale down the side of the jail," the post said. All but one of the suspects has been charged with violent felonies, including murder.

Public Safety News

Massive Blaze Sparks Within Feet Of Venice Beach Shoreline
A massive blaze sparked within feet of the Venice Beach shoreline Wednesday morning, that firefighters later dubbed the "Ocean Front Fire." The structure fire broke out inside a commercial building at 800 S. Ocean Front Walk in Venice around 6:15 a.m. Active flames were extinguished 2 hours, 17 minutes later, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. More than 100 LA City Firefighters responded to the scene and immediately went into a defensive mode. Flames from the blaze could be seen through the roof of the commercial building. The building -- heavily damaged and now unstable, the LAFD said -- is a two-story 6,952-square-foot structure. Investigators said the fire was believed to have started from an outdoor fire at a homeless encampment that extended into a one-story commercial building. The fire became heavily involved and threatened two nearby structures. No injuries were reported.

‘There Are Outbreaks Everywhere’: L.A. County Investigating 538 Workplace Outbreaks
Los Angeles County is actively investigating 538 workplace COVID-19 outbreaks — the highest number ever — as health officials continue to plead with residents and businesses to do all they can to blunt the spread of the coronavirus. The investigations are being conducted at nonresidential settings where at least three laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported and include every kind of workplace imaginable. Outbreaks have been confirmed at warehouses, corporate offices, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, police and fire stations, courthouses, retail outlets, car dealerships, restaurants and grocery stores. In short, as one slide noted during a news conference held by county officials Monday, “there are outbreaks everywhere.” Some larger retail chains have been especially hard hit, with 349 combined employees testing positive at 15 Target locations countywide, 263 workers at nine Home Depots, 92 at six Whole Foods Markets and 383 at nine Costco warehouses, according to county data.

Deaths Among Latinos In L.A. County From COVID-19 Rising At Astonishing Levels
As the coronavirus spreads relentlessly through Los Angeles County, poor neighborhoods and the region’s Latino and Black communities continue to bear the brunt of illness and death, according to data released Wednesday. These groups have been disproportionately hard hit since the beginning of the pandemic, but the gap had eased during the summer. That progress has disappeared and members of those communities are now dying at rates far worse than at any previous point in the COVID-19 crisis. People living in the most impoverished neighborhoods of the county are now averaging about 36 deaths a day per 100,000 residents. By contrast, those living in the wealthiest areas are experiencing about 10 deaths a day per 100,000 residents. Latino residents in L.A. County are dying at an astonishing eight times the rate they once did — from 3½ daily deaths per 100,000 in early November to 28 deaths a day now for every 100,000. “This is a staggering increase of over 800% in a very short amount of time,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

LA County On Pace To Open COVID Vaccines For 65 And Older In Early February, As California Expands Access
As expected, the state of California Wedesday authorized immediate access to COVID-19 vaccines for residents aged 65 and older, following new guidance from the federal government, but Los Angeles County will continue to prioritize health care workers before making doses available to others. "There is no higher priority than efficiently and equitably distributing these vaccines as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences," Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement announcing the change in state guidance. "Individuals 65 and older are now the next group eligible to start receiving vaccines. To those not yet eligible for vaccines, your turn is coming. We are doing everything we can to bring more vaccine into the state." Acting under recommendations initially developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states have given top priority to frontline health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Most states are still working to get the shots to health care workers, but the slow pace of administering the shots has led to calls to authorize more people to receive doses.

Local Government News

L.A. City Council Approved Motions Seeking To Toughen Mask Enforcement
Faced with surging COVID-19 cases, the Los Angeles City Council moved Wednesday to ramp up enforcement of requirements that people wear masks in public to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The council approved a motion instructing certain city departments to prioritize issuing citations during normal duties to people not wearing masks. Leaders also approved a request for the city attorney to draft an ordinance that, if approved, would set fines and penalties for refusing to wear a mask inside a public place when asked to do so by management or while invading someone’s personal space. Councilman Paul Koretz introduced the citation motion in an online meeting, citing soaring numbers of deaths and infections. “Southern California and Los Angeles are now the epicenters of the virus nationally, and entirely out of control,” Koretz said, adding that it was his understanding there has only been modest enforcement of the mask mandate by police and two city departments. “But given our current situation, we need to tackle this situation with renewed vigilance.” Koretz said the building and safety and street services departments should give citations for violations they see during their regular duties and acknowledged that it would probably not be done in response to complaints.

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: