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

March 3, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Man Shot, Killed While Sitting In His Car In Hollywood, Police Say; Female Suspect Sought
An investigation was underway Tuesday in Hollywood after a man was shot and killed while sitting in his car, and police were seeking a woman wanted in connection with the shooting. The shooting was reported about 6:30 Sunset Boulevard and Orange Drive, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The suspect, an unidentified woman, allegedly walked up to the vehicle and opened fire. The victim was taken to a hospital where he died. A motive was not immediately known. Anyone with information on the case is urged to call 877-LAPD-247.

2 Arrested In Shooting Death Of Robbery Victim Thrown From Car In Fairfax District: LAPD
Two Georgia residents have been arrested in the shooting death of a third Atlanta-area man last week in the Fairfax district, authorities said Tuesday. The shooting comes amid concern about violent crime near Melrose Avenue, and investigators believe the victim — 24-year-old Nazeer Defares — was killed during a robbery, the LAPD said in a news release. The assailants in the Feb. 26 incident threw Defares' dead body from a moving vehicle on Rosewood Avenue, near the intersection with Gardner Street, according to police. Bystanders in the area reported finding his wounded body between two vehicles around 6:40 p.m. Defares was subsequently pronounced dead at the scene, officials say. Witnesses told police they heard two to three gunshots before finding his body on the ground. The following day, an FBI task force arrested two suspects in the case: 22-year-old Robert Aikens and Shidreyius McClinton, 20. LAPD first announced the arrests Tuesday, and did not provide information on how the FBI became involved.

Rise In Crime In Melrose, Fairfax Districts Sparks Virtual Community Meeting With LAPD
Members of the Los Angeles Police Department met virtually with community members who live or work in the Melrose and Fairfax districts and are concerned about the recent rise in crime in the area. Captain Shannon Paulson was one of the attendees and said crime all across Los Angeles is rising. Statistics show a 26% increase in homicides and a 141% increase in shootings. "The City of Los Angeles has seen a sizeable increase in violent crime, specifically shootings and homicides. There is some conjecture as to how that's related to the tension stemming from COVID-19, from the closure of businesses etc., but it is definitely been a marked increase over the last roughly six months," said Paulson. Neighbors and business owners within the Melrose corridor are particularly concerned with the rise in recent robberies and homicides. According to Senior Lead Officer, Ian O'Brien, the area that includes La Cienega to the west, La Brea to the east, Beverly to the south, and the southern border of West Hollywood to the north, has seen a 70% increase in robberies this year to date compared to last. Some recent robberies include Rolex watches. "The suspects are very definitely targeting very specific Rolex watches so by all indications, they're casing and identifying our victims. The victims are pedestrians, in and out of stores. We do have leads on these robbery cases. We are diligently following up on those leads. We've had resources in the area in direct response to all of these incidents," said Paulson.
FOX 11

Man Accused Of Fatally Stabbing Relative, Injuring 2 Others In Mid-Wilshire Apartment Is Arrested
A man suspected of fatally stabbing a family member and holding others against their will in a Mid-Wilshire apartment has been arrested, officials announced Tuesday. James Lesnau, 28, allegedly stabbed a man in his 40s to death and assaulted two other family members with a knife about 4:50 a.m. Monday in an apartment along the 4500 block of West Olympic Boulevard. He was already wanted in connection with previous family violence and assaulting family members, Los Angeles Police Department officials said in a news release. Lesnau was found and arrested without incident about 7:50 p.m. Monday at Delaware Road and North San Fernando Boulevard in Burbank. He was booked on suspicion of murder and the outstanding arrest warrants, police said. The case will be presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office on Wednesday. It is unclear what led up to the fatal stabbing or the motive behind the crime. Authorities did not release any additional information about the victims in Monday's case or the previous incident involving Lesnau's family.

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Rose In L.A. In 2020, Mirroring National Trend
Hate crimes against Asian Americans and other members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in Los Angeles rose sharply in 2020, mirroring a national trend and causing concern among police and local advocacy organizations. According to a report presented to the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday, there were 15 anti-Asian hate crimes reported in the city in 2020, compared with seven in 2019, marking a 114% increase. There were also nine hate “incidents” — or bigoted encounters that don't rise to the level of a crime — compared with seven in 2019, police said. Several anti-Asian hate crimes have occurred so far this year. Both police and advocates said they believe many more incidents occur than are reported, and that they are working to better identify, track and record such encounters and conduct more outreach in local Asian communities to encourage reporting by victims. They say the recent hate has been fueled in part by misguided notions of blame for the COVID-19 pandemic, in which early cases arose in China. They said such hatred has at times been spurred by national political figures like former President Trump, and it is up to local leaders to push back.
Los Angeles Times

LAPD's SMART Teams Responding To More Calls After Deployment Change, Commander Says
The specially trained unit of Los Angeles Police Department officers charged with de-escalating encounters with people with mental illnesses is asking for more officers as the city tries to change the way police respond to such incidents. A commander for LAPD's Mental Evaluation Unit on Tuesday said it currently has 63 officers who deploy in 12 teams, called SMART units, across the city per day, waiting for requests to help respond to calls involving people in mental health crises. The number of officers needs to almost double to 152 to fill out plans to expand the program to 34 teams, said Lt. Kelly Muniz in a meeting with Los Angeles police commissioners. She said L.A. County Mental Health Department clinicians who partner up with the SMART units also need to have their team grow, from 29 on staff now to 60. The request for more officers come after LAPD announced last month the expansion of the teams and a new way they'll be deployed. Instead of getting requests from officers already at incidents involving people with mental illnesses, the teams will be expected to roll out first themselves. The units include the SMART officers and the DPH (mental health) clinicians who respond together. Since Feb. 10, the team has responded to 56 more calls than in the same time the year before.
Los Angeles Daily News

Innocent Driver Killed After Short Pursuit Ends In Fiery Crash Near The Grove; Suspect In Custody
A short pursuit came to a fiery end Tuesday night near The Grove in the Fairfax District, killing an innocent driver. According to initial reports, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department West Hollywood Division was in pursuit of a suspect wanted on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon on a deputy. Deputies chased the driver to the intersection of 3rd Street and Fairfax Avenue, where at approximately 10:30 p.m. he crashed into another vehicle, the impact of which sent the second vehicle into the side of a building. Los Angeles Fire Department crews attempted to pull the innocent driver from their vehicle, but they were pronounced dead at the scene. The person was not immediately identified. The suspect's car, meanwhile, caught fire. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to a nearby hospital in unknown condition. Deputies had initially attempted to pull over the suspect, whose name was not released, for a traffic violation, the sheriff's department said. However, the pursuit ensued because the suspect was wanted for assault on a deputy.

California Had More Fentanyl Seized Than Any Other State In 2019, DEA Report Says
Los Angeles remains one of the major shipping points for Mexican drug cartels fueling a rise in fentanyl across the United States, while California leads the nation in methamphetamine conversion labs, according to a federal drug study out Tuesday. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration released its 2020 National Drug Threat Assessment -- the agency's annual publication that outlines threats posed by domestic and international drug trafficking and the abuse of illicit drugs. Among its many points, the report says that California had more fentanyl seized than any other state in 2019, and that California had the second-greatest amount of cocaine seized in 2019. Nationally, according to the report, the opioid threat remains at epidemic levels, while the stimulant threat, including methamphetamine and cocaine, is worsening both in volume and reach. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 83,000 people lost their lives to drug-related overdoses in the 12 month period ending in July of 2020 -- an increase from 2019, when more than 70,000 people died of overdoses.

Lethal Explosives Found, Disabled At Sacramento Elementary School Before Children Arrived, Officials Say
A pair of explosive devices on Tuesday morning were found lying on a sidewalk outside a Sacramento elementary school, just before a group of children were expected to arrive, authorities said. Around 8:30 a.m., a proctor discovered what turned out to be a pipe bomb and a homemade gun, known as a zip gun, at the northeast corner of Ethel I. Baker Elementary, “literally where kids walk onto the grounds,” said Sgt. Rod Grassmann, spokesman for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office. The proctor — who was with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America — alerted school officials, who then called the Sheriff's Office, Grassmann said. A bomb squad was sent in and found that the devices were active. They were rendered safe by 12:30 p.m. Less than two hours later, law enforcement disposed of the devices, which Grassmann described as “both very lethal. The sealed pipe bomb contained metal shrapnel, fireworks and gasoline. The gun, filled with a type of buckshot, was designed to send the ammo flying if triggered. About 48 students were supposed to arrive on campus for classes not long after the explosives were discovered, Grassmann said. A suspect has not been identified yet, Grassmann said. Law enforcement collected evidence and continue to canvass the neighborhood for potential witnesses and possible video recordings of the incident.
Los Angeles Times

Capitol Police Increasing Security Ahead Of March 4 Due To ‘Concerning Information And Intelligence'
U.S. Capitol Police sources tell FOX 5 they have received an intelligence bulletin warning of a militia plot to breach the Capitol this Thursday, March 4. Two sources say officers got the bulletin on Tuesday and that it specifically names the militia group the Three Percenters. Members of the group are accused in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. Sources say their days off and vacation days have been canceled this week as a result of this new threat. U.S. Capitol Police announced Tuesday that they are planning to beef up security and staffing after becoming aware of "concerning information and intelligence pertaining to March 4th." The law enforcement agency shared in a statement that "based on the intelligence that we have, the Department has taken immediate steps to enhance our security posture and staffing for a number of days, to include March 4th."
FOX 11

Georgia Deputy Dies After Weekend Shooting
A Georgia deputy died Monday after being shot by a suspect Saturday. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Decatur County Lt. Justin Bedwell died at a hospital Monday morning after being shot in his patrol car during a pursuit of two suspects Saturday. The suspects, Troy Arthur Phillips and Brad Phillips, were both arrested. The incident began when a deputy tried to stop a pickup truck that was driving recklessly. The driver did not stop and a pursuit ensued. One suspect inside the vehicle shot at the pursuing deputies. At one point, the suspects pulled into a driveway and attempted to break into a house, but the homeowner fired at the suspects and they fled. It was around this time that Bedwell arrived at the scene and was shot by one of the suspects. Brad Phillips was arrested on scene after the suspects crashed into a wooded area. A manhunt for Troy Phillips ended in his capture on Sunday. Bedwell served for 20 years.

Public Safety News

One Killed In Homeless Encampment Fire
One person was killed Tuesday evening in a fire at a homeless encampment in the Palms area of Los Angeles. Firefighters responded about 9:50 p.m. to a trash fire in the 9900 block of Venice Boulevard, near Hughes Avenue, and found one person dead, according to Nicholas Prange of the Los Angeles Fire Department. The cause of the fire was under investigation by the fire department's Arson Counter Terrorism Section and the Los Angeles Police Department. The name of the victim was not disclosed.

LA County Hits Record Low Of Positive COVID-19 Cases
Los Angeles County, which was among the hardest-hit by a deadly coronavirus surge, reported a record low number of new cases Monday as California's overall figures continued to plummet. The county of 10 million reported under 1,000 new daily cases — back to numbers not seen since before the fall and winter surge — and the daily rate of COVID-19 tests that were positive averaged about 3% over seven days compared to about 20% in early January. "That's actually the lowest its ever been since we've been offering testing in the community," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. While the number of new cases could be lower because of a lag in weekend reporting, Ferrer said overall the county is moving in a positive direction. She said people appeared to have heeded social distancing and other safety measures designed to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline "and we have not seen any increases due to gatherings that may have happened during the Super Bowl or the Presidents Day weekend," Ferrer said. "These declines are real and we're grateful for the choices made and the work done by everyone — individuals and businesses — that is making this possible," Ferrer said.
FOX 11

Local Government News

LA City Council Passes Motion To Fund Second Round Of Rental Assistance
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve funding from the federal and state governments for a second round of the city's COVID-19 Emergency Renters Relief Program, which will help about 64,000 families with rental assistance. Of the $259 million that will be received from the state and federal government's relief programs, $235 million will be used for direct rent assistance and $3 million will be used for eviction defense. The motion will go to Mayor Eric Garcetti for final approval. "Last year when we received CARES Act funding, this Council took quick action to establish programs that would provide direct assistance. We did this because we knew keeping a roof over Angelenos' heads was the best way to help them through this pandemic,'' said Council President Nury Martinez, who introduced the motion.

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: