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

April 9, 2021
Law Enforcement News

George Gascón's Plan To Downsize DA's Gang Unit Concerns Top Deputies, Demoralizes Prosecutors
In a Zoom call with dozens of wary deputy district attorneys, two top lieutenants of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón acknowledged it will be “an uphill battle” to quickly implement his controversial plan to downsize and rebrand the office's vaunted Hardcore Gang Investigations Unit. For nearly an hour last week, Maria Ramirez, director of the Bureau of Special Prosecution, and Larry Droeger, prosecution support operations director, consoled and tried to reassure more than 30 prosecutors about the future of the scaled-down operation, according to a recording of the Zoom meeting obtained by the Southern California News Group. Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, blasted Gascón's decision to dismantle the hardcore unit. “It's unconscionable, but not surprising, that George Gascón' is waving the white flag on eradicating street gangs in Los Angeles,” he said in a statement. “Gang violence is driving the surge in murders and shootings in our city. Violent gangs use fear and intimidation to hold our neighborhoods hostage, and holding them accountable must be a top priority to restoring safety in our community. So far this year, homicides in Los Angeles are up nearly 32% and gang murders have increased by about 50% compared to the same period in 2020, according to the LAPPL. The police union estimates there are more than four shootings in the city daily. Figures for Los Angeles County were not immediately available.
Los Angeles Daily News

Man Fatally Stabbed In Winnetka Area; Suspect Or Suspects Sought
Authorities sought public help Thursday to solve the stabbing death of a man who was found in the backyard of a residence in the Winnetka area. Officers sent to the 7600 block of Gazette Avenue about 8:10 a.m. Wednesday found the 26-year-old Canoga Park man suffering from multiple stab wounds, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he died, the LAPD reported. His name was withheld, pending notification of his relatives. No suspect description was available. Anyone with information on the crime was urged to call the LAPD Valley Bureau homicide office at 818-374-1925; 877-LAPD-247; or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS.

Woman Shot In Dispute With Neighbor In Baldwin Hills
A 45-year-old woman was hospitalized Thursday morning with at least one gunshot wound she sustained in an altercation with a neighbor in Baldwin Hills. Officers responded about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday to the 4100 block of Somerset Drive, south of Santa Rosalia Drive, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The victim was taken to a hospital with stable vital signs, while the neighbor, a woman, was taken into custody, the department said. Details of what led to the altercation were not immediately available. The names of the victim and suspect were not disclosed.

Man Wanted For 2017 Northridge Homicide Arrested In Mexico, Returned To Los Angeles
A man wanted in the New Year's Eve 2017 killing of a man outside a Northridge restaurant is now in custody following his arrest in Mexico. Derek Bryan Dominguez, 31, was returned to Los Angeles and booked on suspicion of murder early Wednesday, according to the FBI and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He's being held on $3 million bail, the sheriff's department reported. Dominguez allegedly killed Jorge Reyes Jr., 23, who was gunned down about 6 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2017, outside a KFC restaurant in the 8600 block of Balboa Boulevard. Dominguez was charged with murder in Los Angeles, and a state warrant was issued for his arrest on Jan. 26, 2018. Los Angeles Police Department detectives investigating the killing believed that Dominguez fled to Mexico, and a federal arrest warrant was issued on Feb. 2, 2020, after he was charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, the FBI reported. The fugitive investigation was conducted by detectives with the LAPD and the FBI's Fugitive Task Force in Los Angeles.
FOX 11

Residents of World-Famous Venice Beach Demand LA Move Homeless Off the Streets as Tents and Crimes Multiply

Patrons dining in beachside cafés in Venice now have a clear view of what's become one of the city's biggest homeless encampments -- hundreds of tents lining the world-famous Boardwalk. From the Boardwalk and on surrounding streets, NBC4 viewers have filmed assaults, tent fires and just about every kind of violence -- part of a spike in crime in Venice where the housed and unhoused are often targets.

1 Injured When Driver Of Stolen Utility Truck Crashes In El Segundo After Pursuit; Suspect Arrested
At least one person was injured Thursday when the driver of a stolen utility truck crashed in El Segundo following a police chase, officials said. The pursuit began about 9 a.m. when Los Angeles school police officers saw a utility vehicle crash into several parked cars on Figueroa Street and 168th Street, not far from Gardena Elementary School. The officers tried to stop the driver, but he failed to yield and a pursuit was initiated, L.A. school police officials said. The chase lasted about 20 minutes when the driver crashed at Pacific Coast Highway and Grand Avenue in El Segundo. Aerial video showed the truck crashed into trees near a restaurant in the area and the vehicle was heavily damaged. At least one person was injured, but was not taken to a hospital. Initial reports indicated a pedestrian was also struck, but that has not been confirmed, officials said. The driver, who was only described as a man, was arrested on suspicion of stealing the truck, evading and reckless driving. The driver may have been impaired, officials said. The vehicle was determined to be a city of Carson utility truck.

Man Who Embezzled $36M From L.A. Company Sentenced To Prison After Using Funds To Pay Off Millions In Credit Card Debt
A man who embezzled more than $36 million from a Los Angeles company was sentenced Thursday to 10 1/2 years in federal prison and ordered to repay the money. Paul McDaniel, 44, used most of the funds he embezzled to pay off $23 million in credit card debt, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney's office. McDaniel embezzled the funds over more than seven years while working as accounting manager for Hypermedia Systems Inc., a media technology services firm based in downtown L.A., prosecutors said. McDaniel obtained the money by creating and approving false vendor invoices from a Nevada corporation he created, and the money went into a bank account he controlled, authorities said. McDaniel fled to Costa Rica, where he was arrested in 2017. He was extradited to the United States in 2019 and pleaded guilty that year to one count of wire fraud.

Sheriff's Department Seeks Help To Locate Woman Reported Missing Near Compton
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department sought the public's help Thursday to locate a missing 30-year-old woman last seen near Compton nearly three months ago. Dara De LaTorre was last seen Jan. 15 at about 9 p.m. in the 15000 block of South Wadsworth Avenue in the unincorporated West Rancho Dominguez area, near Compton Boulevard and the border with Compton, according to Deputy Grace Medrano of the Sheriff's Information Bureau. De LaTorre is Hispanic, 5 feet, 7 inches tall, and weighs 200 pounds with brown eyes and long brown hair. Anyone with information on De LaTorre's whereabouts can contact the Sheriff's Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500.

Former Santa Monica Resident Suspected In $14 Million Stock Fraud Scheme
A former Santa Monica and Orange County resident was charged in federal court Wednesday with ripping off about 100 investors to the tune of $14 million in an alleged stock fraud scheme. Ronald Shane Flynn, who is the founder of Vuuzle Media Corp., an online streaming and entertainment company, is charged in a federal grand jury indictment with 15 counts of wire fraud. According to prosecutors, Flynn, 57, hired high-pressure sales representatives to solicit investments starting in September 2016. He's accused of telling investors the money would pay for the business and to take his company public, which would yield high dividends. Flynn, however, never intended to conduct an initial public offering, and pocketed millions of dollars to buy luxury items for himself at resorts and from jewelers, prosecutors allege. Flynn is also facing a lawsuit filed in January by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges he misappropriated $4.9 million of the investments to take luxury flights and for hotel stays, subscriptions to dating websites and nightclub revelry.
Los Angeles Daily News

2 People Facing Murder Charges For Shooting Outside Pasadena Taco Restaurant
Charges were filed Tuesday against two people accused of murdering a 23-year-old man in a Pasadena restaurant parking lot, officials said. Just before 9 p.m. on March 13, police received several calls of a shooting that occurred outside Viva Tacos La Estrella restaurant on the 2500 block of East Foothill Boulevard, the Pasadena Police Department said in a news release. Responding officers found two victims inside a parked vehicle: a 23-year-old man who had been struck by gunfire numerous times, and a 19-year-old woman who sustained minor injuries, police said. The 23-year-old was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries. Information on the victims' identities was not yet released. Detectives determined that both victims were seated inside a parked vehicle when the suspects approached them and started shooting, the department said. The two suspects then ran from the area immediately after the shooting. Following an investigation, authorities served search warrants on April 2 at “various locations in the Southern California area.” Items “of evidentiary value” were found and collected during the searches, which connected two people to the shooting, the department said.

Local CHP Officers Create Social Media Video To Promote Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is ‘Distracted Driving Awareness Month,' and officers with the California Highway Patrol's West Valley Division are testing an out-of-the-box approach to draw attention to the issue. They created and posted a video to social media, showing an officer busting a young driver for texting at a red light. "We have some silly personalities here at the office and we just took advantage of that," said CHP Officer David Galbraith. He is part of the team behind the video, which is racking up views on social platforms. "It's just showcasing an officer maybe in a little bit of a silly light that people aren't used to, so we're glad that it's memorable and it's sticking in people's minds and we hope it translates into people remembering to stay off their phones while they're driving," he said. Officer Galbraith and his colleagues have experimented with more traditional campaigns using pictures and text in the past, but found that they weren't incredibly effective. The idea behind the video was to grab people's attention in an approachable way and make it clear that there is zero tolerance and extra enforcement for distracted driving, especially during the month of April. Studies show that drivers are 23 times more likely to crash if they're texting and driving, and young and inexperienced drivers are most at risk. "We all see people on their phones, and especially in stop-and-go traffic - it leads to a lot of traffic collisions," said Galbraith. He and his colleagues hope that the video makes an impact.
FOX 11

FBI Seeks Help Locating Arianna Fitts, Child Missing Since 2016 From San Francisco Area
The Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday was seeking the public's help in identifying potential witnesses and people of interest in the Los Angeles area who might have information about the 2016 murder of a woman and disappearance of her now 7-year-old daughter. According to the FBI, Arianna Fitts, then 2, and her 32-year-old mother, Nicole Fitts, were reported missing by family members April 5, 2016. Just three days later, Nicole's body was found in a shallow hole in a park just south of San Francisco. The investigation found that the toddler was last seen in Oakland in February 2016 in the care of her babysitter and the woman's husband. The FBI said Fitts was “lured out of her residence about 9 p.m. on April 1, 2016 — the day she was last seen alive — by a phone call urging her to ‘go meet the babysitter.”‘ Investigators said that they do not believe Arianna was with her mother when she was killed, though they said witnesses or people of interest could be living in the Los Angeles area. “The FBI and SFPD want to speak to everyone who interacted with Nicole leading up to her disappearance,” the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement. “Try to remember every detail you can, no matter how insignificant you think it maybe.

Man Indicted For Attacking Officer With Skateboard During U.S. Capitol Riot
A federal grand jury in Washington indicted a Florida man for taking his skateboard to the head of a Metropolitan Police officer during the U.S. Capitol insurrection Jan. 6. Grady Douglas Owens, 21, was initially arrested on April 1 in Florida. He faces several charges including assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees; obstruction; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Owens was captured on body camera footage using a skateboard to assault an unnamed Metropolitan Police officer, referred to as "C.B." outside of the Capitol building, according to prosecutors. The attack caused a concussion and finger injury to the police officer. Prosecutors have indicated in court records that approximately 81 members of the Capitol Police and 58 members of the Metropolitan Police Department were assaulted during the attack on the Capitol. Federal investigators continue to make arrests into the insurrection at the Capitol more than three months after the siege occurred. The attack resulted in the death of five people. Just this week, investigators released details of cases against eight additional men for their involvement in the insurrection.

Public Safety News

Man Found Dead After Tent Fire On L.A. Skid Row
A man in a homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles' skid row was found dead Thursday after a tent fire. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a rubbish fire just after 5 p.m. in the 700 block of Towne Avenue, according to spokesman Nicholas Prange. He said that officials found a man in his 60s already deceased when they arrived. Prange said that the cause of the fire is under investigation. Estela Lopez, executive director of the L.A. Downtown Industrial District business improvement district, said the tent was part of a small homeless encampment. Lopez said a security team that's contracted by the district first spotted the smoke and responded to the fire, trying unsuccessfully to extinguish it. “LAFD was called immediately, and we were just trying to hold it down while they arrived,” she said. Fires are a danger often faced by people living in homeless encampments. There were 2,500 fires involving the homeless community throughout L.A. in 2018, double the number the city saw in 2017. Those included arson and accidental fires caused by people cooking or warming themselves.
Los Angeles Times

Metrolink Receives $59,000 Grant For Campaign To Deter Suicide On Train Tracks
Metrolink announced Thursday that it has received a $59,000 federal grant to fund a campaign aimed at deterring people from committing suicide on its train tracks. Metrolink officials said suicides accounted for 40% of all incidents of trains striking pedestrians between 2017 and 2019. The grant from the Federal Railroad Administration will fund an outreach campaign focused on training and public engagement, along with targeted awareness efforts at four “hot spots” — in north Orange County between Anaheim and Santa Ana; south Orange County from San Juan Capistrano through San Clemente; the San Fernando Valley between Van Nuys and Burbank; and the San Fernando/Sylmar area. Metrolink officials said a contributing factor to suicides by train is the prevalence of homeless people living near the tracks. According to the agency, research shows that the availability of a means of death is a major factor in suicides. “Metrolink is eager to work with law enforcement and community groups to help in any way we can to educate individuals homeless encampments about options available to them,” said Metrolink CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “This grant is a force multiplier for our efforts to keep people safe in the vicinity of our tracks.”
Los Angeles Daily News

CA Authorizes $536M For Wildfire Mitigation, Forest Management
California will authorize $536 million for wildfire mitigation and forest management projects before the worst of the fire season strikes later this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders said Thursday. That more than doubles $200 million in recent annual spending, advocates said, and wildfire preparedness grants were dropped entirely last year when the state prematurely anticipated a pandemic-driven budget shortfall. Armed now with an unexpected multi-billion-dollar surplus, lawmakers plan to add the money to this fiscal year's budget before considering even more in the new spending plan that takes effect July 1. "With California facing another extremely dry year, it is critical that we get a head start on reducing our fire risk," Newsom and his fellow Democrats who lead the Assembly and Senate said in a joint statement. They're rushing to thin forests, build fuel breaks around vulnerable communities and allow for planned burns before a dry winter turns into a tinder-dry summer. Last year's record-setting wildfire season charred more than 4% of the state while destroying nearly 10,500 buildings and killing 33 people.
FOX 11

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: