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 19, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Gascón's Office Won't Seek Death Penalty For Man Charged In Officer's Killing
Over the objection of the two prosecutors assigned to the case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office dropped its bid Thursday to seek the death penalty for an admitted gang member accused of killing a family member in East Los Angeles and then opening fire on two Whittier police officers, killing one and wounding the other. Michael Christopher Mejia, 30, is awaiting trial on charges stemming from the Feb. 20, 2017, killings of Officer Keith Boyer, 53, and of his own cousin, 47-year-old Roy Torres. The murder charges 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. "Over the objection of Mr. (Geoff) Lewin and I and despite our attempts to prevent this from happening, we've been ordered to remove the death penalty as punishment consideration in this case," Deputy District Attorney Garrett Dameron said during a hearing on the case today at the Norwalk courthouse. Prosecutors had announced in 2018 that they would seek the death penalty against Mejia. The reversal comes two months after District Attorney George Gascón was sworn into office. Gascón -- who said he had a "mandate from the public" -- has vowed that the office would no longer pursue the death penalty.
FOX 11

Woman Fatally Shot In Downtown Los Angeles
A woman in her 40s was shot and killed Thursday in downtown Los Angeles by a man who walked over to her. The shooting occurred about 2:30 p.m. in the 300 block of East Fifth Street, near San Julian Street, said Officer William Cooper with the Los Angeles Police Department. The shooter fled after the shooting, Cooper said. Paramedics called to the scene pronounced the woman dead. Her name has not been publicly released. The suspect has not been identified by police.

Push And Pull Over Los Angeles Policing Hits Roadways And Transit
The ongoing debate over policing levels in Los Angeles centered on the transportation sector Thursday as Metro officials considered paying for more officers on the city's transit system and the Los Angeles Police Department announced it would no longer send officers to minor traffic collisions. The two discussions reflected the shifting landscape for law enforcement in L.A. at a time of intense violence and changing public safety priorities, when homicides are at a decade high but protesters' summer calls for defunding police continue to resonate among elected officials and other leaders. They followed a Board of Education decision two days earlier to cut a third of officers from the Los Angeles School Police Department. Under a proposal taken up by Metro's safety committee Thursday, the agency would expand its security contracts with the LAPD, the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and Long Beach Police Department by a combined $111 million. Metro officials said the funding was necessary for security initiatives and deployments the agency had already requested from the police agencies, including ramped-up patrols on transit lines where crime has persisted at pre-pandemic levels despite the system's loss of more than half its ridership.
Los Angeles Times

LAPD Launches ‘Alternatives To Dispatch' Program To Respond To Mental Health Calls
The Los Angeles Police Department has launched a new pilot program which dispatches a sworn officer and a Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health clinician to certain mental health calls as part of a series of efforts to remove law enforcement from nonviolent and non-criminal situations. Assistant Chief Horace Frank announced the Monday launch of the “Alternatives to Dispatch” project at Thursday's meeting of the Los Angeles Police Commission. These actions follow the demonstrations over the summer calling for a re-imagining of public safety sparked by the death of George Floyd. The LAPD responds to thousands of mental health calls every year, but advocates say many don't need an armed response, they need a mental health professional. Now, a clinician will be dispatched right away to nonviolent calls with a sworn officer. The department also launched a one-year pilot program with Didi Hirsch's Suicide Prevention Center. Trained professionals will take transferred calls from the LAPD's 911 Dispatch Center between noon and 8 p.m. Didi Hirsch's CEO Dr. Jonathan Goldfinger says they expect to take 28 thousand calls away from the LAPD a year related to suicide or emotional distress — saving the city about $14 million. “We have about 96 percent of people who call us from any of the hotlines that we field, we're able to deescalate the risk so that we never have to deploy anyone,” said Goldfinger. LAPD Chief Michel Moore says in just the last three weeks, there's been about 91 instances where mental health professionals have handled a call rather than a police officer.

CHP Smash Into Suspect's Car To End Chase Through Los Angeles
A police SUV broadsided a suspect's vehicle to stop him from fleeing after an hourlong chase around the Echo Park and downtown Los Angeles area Thursday night. The suspect was quickly taken into custody. The chase began around 9 p.m. in the Echo Park area when Los Angeles Police Department officers tried to pull over a reckless driving suspect. The suspect fled on multiple freeways, including the 101 and 110, briefly heading toward the San Fernando Valley before turning around and heading toward downtown. The driver continued turning through neighborhoods north of downtown, at one point ending up near Echo Park again. The red Chevrolet had Washington state plates. After about an hour of pursuing the suspect, it appeared officers were calling off the chase. But they soon resumed the pursuit and caught up to the suspect as he pulled into a gas station in Eagle Rock. As the car tried to make a U-turn on the gas station property, a CHP SUV broadsided the vehicle, forcing it to stop. Officers jumped out with weapons drawn and the suspect surrendered and was quickly taken into custody.

4 Hurt In Fiery Crash Involving Ice Cream Truck In South L.A.
Four people were injured when a speeding car collided with an ice cream truck in the Vermont-Slauson area of South Los Angeles Thursday, officials said. The crash occurred shortly after 6 p.m. at the intersection of 65th Street and Normandie Avenue, according to William Cooper, a media relations officer for the L.A. Police Department. The ice cream truck was headed west through the intersection when it collided with a car speeding down Normandie, said LAPD Sgt. Guy Juneau. The force of the crash caused the ice cream truck to overturn, and a fire broke out, Juneau said. Firefighters responded to the scene and found the passenger car still ablaze, though its occupants had escaped to safety, the L.A. Fire Department said in an alert. Two people were in each vehicle, and three of them suffered fractured legs, including both people in the car as well as a passenger in the ice cream truck, Juneau said. The ice cream truck's driver also complained of pain. Investigators believe speed was a factor, but they don't think alcohol or drugs played a role. No further details were available Thursday night.

LA Motorists To Report Minor Traffic Collisions Online Instead Of Calling Police
Drivers and passengers who suffer minor injuries during collisions in the city of Los Angeles must now fill out incident reports online rather than call 911 or a non-emergency number as the Los Angeles Police Department frees up officers to deal with more pressing calls and concerns, authorities said Thursday, Feb. 18. The Community Online Reporting System will handle reports for minor traffic collisions, hit-and-runs, theft, vandalism, lost property and harassing phone calls. Officers receive the reports and follow up as necessary, Police Chief Michel Moore said during a press conference in front of LAPD headquarters. The average traffic-collision call took roughly four hours of an officer's time to respond to the scene, take a report and file it, Assistant Chief Blake Chow estimated. The department handled roughly 40,000 such reports each year. The online reporting system, he estimated, would create the equivalent of 16,000 10-hour shifts for officers to focus on other concerns. “It will improve the efficiency of the officers' work,” Chow said. “We're going to give back time to officers so they can be out in the community working on crime reduction and working with community members rather than taking reports.” Collisions involving major injuries, fatalities and drivers under the influence would still warrant an emergency response, Moore said.
Los Angeles Daily News

TikTok Stars Plead Not Guilty To Hollywood Hills COVID Party Charges
Two TikTok stars pleaded not guilty Thursday to misdemeanor charges for hosting two parties at their rented home in the Hollywood Hills in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Bryce Hall, 21, and Blake Gray, 20, were charged last August with one count each of causing a public nuisance by conducting a loud and unruly conduct gathering and violating the “Safer LA” emergency declaration. Hall and Gray hosted two parties at the home they share on Appian Way within less than a week, including an Aug. 14 celebration for Hall's birthday, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Aug. 28. Los Angeles police officers responded to both parties and stayed until the guests left, the city attorney said. Police initially issued Hall a “party house citation” on Aug. 8 and left a warning that further violations may result in the power being shut off, according to Feuer. It wasn't clear how many people attended that party, but the city attorney said he believed that officers saw as many as two dozen people leaving the house. Six days later, police returned to the house after getting a call about shots being fired and found several hundred people at a party, according to the City Attorney's Office. “We allege these hosts have been incredibly irresponsible, with a highly infectious disease spreading and parties banned because of it, and we allege they violated the law,” he said.
Los Angeles Daily News

Marilyn Manson Under Investigation By LA Sheriff's Department For Domestic Violence Allegations
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has opened an investigation into domestic violence allegations against rock musician Marilyn Manson, ABC News confirms. The department stated its Special Victims Bureau is leading the probe into incidents that occurred between 2009 and 2011 when Manson lived in West Hollywood. Further details were not disclosed. The names of the alleged victim or victims were not disclosed but former partners of Manson have recently spoken publicly to accuse him of sexual and physical abuse. Actress Esmé Bianco came forward with abuse allegations, claiming she was "coerced into involuntary servitude, which included sexual abuse and physical abuse" during her three-year relationship with the rocker. During an interview with ABC News, Bianco alleged graphic sexual and physical violence committed by Manson, and said he did not allow her to sleep, eat or leave the apartment without his permission after she moved into his West Hollywood apartment in 2011.

Sentencing Due For LA-Area Man Who Obstructed Probe Into Trump Donations
A Los Angeles venture capitalist who obstructed a federal investigation into donations to former President Donald Trump's inaugural committee faces sentencing Thursday. Imaad Zuberi, 51, of Arcadia pleaded guilty two years ago to separate charges brought by Los Angeles prosecutors arising from earlier campaign donations, federal lobbying and tax violations. He pleaded guilty in June to the obstruction charge, and both matters were consolidated for sentencing before U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips. Prosecutors are asking Phillips to sentence Zuberi to more than 10 years in prison and a $10 million fine. Probation officials have recommended several years less, while Zuberi's defense recommend an unspecified shorter sentence. Zuberi's crimes are “multi-faceted but boil down to four primary aspects,” federal prosecutors wrote in sentencing position papers filed in Los Angeles federal court.

2 Dallas Officers Shot, Wounded; 2 People Found Dead Inside Home
Two people were found dead inside an Old East Dallas home Thursday and two Dallas police officers were shot, police say. The officers were immediately shot at when they arrived around 11 a.m. at a home in the 5300 block of Bonita Avenue, near Henderson Avenue and Central Expressway, police said. The officers were in stable condition after being taken to a hospital, Chief Eddie Garcia said. SWAT officers entered the home shortly after 1:30 p.m. and found one male and one female dead inside the home. Police did not say how old they were or release their names. Police also didn't release the names of the injured officers. Police did not provide details of what led to the shootings. Dallas Police Association president Mike Mata said the two officers were shot in the lower legs. But he could not provide more details about what happened. The department is notifying the officers' families, Mata said. 
The Dallas Morning News

Sheriff: Florida Deputy Killed By Drunk Driver Fleeing Traffic Stop
A Florida sheriff's office is in mourning after one of its deputies was struck and killed by a suspected drunk driver Wednesday night. The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office identified the deputy as 30-year-old Michael Magli. According to FOX 13, the suspect fled a traffic stop at a high rate of speed, driving erratically. The suspect drove across a median into oncoming traffic and lost control of his car. That's when the car struck Magli, who had been preparing to deploy spike strips. Magli was pinned under the car and died at the scene. The sheriff's office said the suspect, 33-year-old Robert Allen Holzaepfel, was intoxicated, driving on a suspended license and was on probation. Magli is survived by a wife and two children, the agency said.

Public Safety News

3 People Injured In 3-Story Apartment Fire In Northridge
Three people were injured Thursday when a fire ripped through a large, three-story apartment building in Northridge, officials reported. The fire was reported at 12:17 p.m. at an apartment complex located at 9850 N. Reseda Blvd, right across the street from LAFD Fire Station 70. Brian Humphrey, a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson, said heavy fire was reported coming from one unit on the third floor. Aerial video from Sky5 showed smoke and flames billowing out of the roof of the building. A fireman was also seen helping a resident get out of his second-story apartment and climbing down a ladder. The fire victims were evaluated by paramedics and their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening, Humphrey told KTLA. Close to 100 firefighters responded to the fire. It was extinguished within 33 minutes. The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

COVID-19 Tests Available In LA Without Appointment Starting Next Week
Starting next week, COVID-19 tests at Los Angeles sites will be available without an appointment, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday. “Since we became the first big city in America to offer universal testing, free to everyone with or without symptoms, we've tested more times than there are people in the city of Los Angeles, over four million tests across 14 city-run sites, 136 nursing facilities and over 150 mobile sites we've set up around the city,” Garcetti said during his COVID-19 briefing. Those who want a test will be able to show up to any testing site between Monday and Saturday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. People can register for their tests as they wait in line and should bring their insurance information or identification if they don't have insurance. Garcetti did not specify which day next week appointment-free testing will begin. People wanting to plan in advance can still sign up for an appointment in advance  here .

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: