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

May 28, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Defund the Police? No, Fund Them Better
Congress and the White House are trying to overhaul police practices. By tradition in such efforts the obvious will likely be overlooked, so here is the obvious: Violent crime is rising in almost every major American city, after decades of falling. Police departments are in crisis, battered by charges of abuse, targeted for cuts, many struggling under recent bail-reform laws. Officers are demoralized. From the New York Post one month ago: “More than 5,300 NYPD uniformed officers retired or put in their papers to leave in 2020—a 75 percent spike from the year before.” In Philadelphia they're struggling with a shortage of recruits and a similar surge in retirements. “People don't want to be police anymore,” a local chief told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Doesn't it strike you as mad? We ask our cops to be diplomats, to resolve domestic disputes peacefully. We ask them to have the law at their fingertips, and to treat everyone, including drunk 23-year-olds spoiling for a fight, with respect. At the same time we want them steely-eyed and sure if someone pulls a gun. We ask them to act proportionately. We ask them to control stray dogs. And all this while year by year society's problems escalate, including a mental-health crisis and a drug crisis.
Wall Street Journal

DNA Evidence Leads To Arrest Of Suspected Hit-and-Run Driver In Downtown L.A. Crash That Killed Cyclist
DNA evidence left at the scene of a hit-and-run crash in downtown Los Angeles that killed a bicyclist has led to the suspected driver being charged with murder, police said Thursday. Ronald Earl Kenebrew Jr., 36, was identified as the suspect in the collision that killed 46-year-old Branden Finley after detectives ran the evidence through the massive DNA database known as Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), according to the LAPD. On Thursday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office filed three criminal counts against the Lancaster man including murder, carjacking and felony hit-and-run, police said. He was being held at Los Angeles County jail on $2.2 million bail. LAPD investigators learned of the DNA evidence matching with Kenebrew on May 11, police said. The Lancaster man has been in the custody of Los Angeles County sheriff's officials on suspicion of robbery since Feb. 11, nearly a month after the fatal crash. Kenebrew was also linked to the crime after detectives identified him as the suspect in videos from the morning of the collision, when he allegedly stole a white 2010 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck in the 900 block of Wilshire Boulevard. Surveillance images were released by LAPD the day of the crash.

13-Year-Old Girl Reported Missing In Panorama City
The Los Angeles Police Department Thursday asked for the public's assistance to locate a missing 13-year-old girl diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression and who was last seen in Panorama City. Katherine Almanza was last seen at about 6:55 p.m. Tuesday at her foster home located in the 8300 block of Willis Avenue, near Roscoe Boulevard, according to an LAPD statement. Katherine is Hispanic, 5 feet, 7 inches tall, weighs about 205 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes and braces. She was last seen wearing a blue shirt, black shorts and black boots. Katherine is also without needed medication, police said. Anyone with information of her whereabouts was asked to call LAPD Mission Area juvenile detectives at 818-838-9810 or 818-838-9800.

BLM's Patrisse Cullors To Step Down From Movement Foundation
A co-founder of Black Lives Matter announced Thursday that she is stepping down as executive director of the movement's foundation. She decried what she called a smear campaign from a far-right group, but said neither that nor recent criticism from other Black organizers influenced her departure. Patrisse Cullors, who has been at the helm of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for nearly six years, said she is leaving to focus on other projects, including the upcoming release of her second book and a multi-year TV development deal with Warner Bros. Her last day with the foundation is Friday. “I've created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave,” Cullors told The Associated Press. “It feels like the time is right.” Cullors' departure follows a massive surge in support and political influence in the U.S. and around the world for the BLM movement, which was established nearly eight years ago in response to injustice against Black Americans. The resignation also comes on the heels of controversy over the foundation's finances and over Cullors' personal wealth. The 37-year-old activist said her resignation has been in the works for more than a year and has nothing to do with the personal attacks she has faced from far-right groups or any dissension within the movement. 
Associated Press

L.A. agrees to pay four LAPD officers $30K each over disputed ‘Blue Flu' claims
The city of Los Angeles agreed this week to pay $30,000 each to four LAPD officers who alleged in state court that they were wrongfully disciplined for participating in a “Blue Flu” protest action last summer. The four officers claimed to have legitimate reasons for calling out sick over the July 4 weekend, when the Los Angeles Police Department alleged that hundreds of officers had engaged in an illegal labor action by calling out sick en masse to send a political message. The officers alleged the discipline they received was unlawful and harmed their careers. The payouts came in four individual judgments against the city, which city attorneys accepted — along with blame in the case — rather than going to trial over the claims.
Los Angeles Times

Car Plows Into South LA Gas Station, Driver Flees
Authorities are looking for the occupants of a car which careened into the front of a Shell gas station convenience store in South Los Angeles early Thursday morning. The crash occurred at 3:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Firestone Boulevard. According to California Highway Patrol, there was a two-car collision that somehow sent one of the vehicles slamming into the gas station. The occupants of the car that crashed into the station ran from the scene and remain at large, CHP said. It's unclear exactly how many people were in the vehicle. The Los Angeles County Fire Department reported that one person was taken to a hospital with undisclosed injuries. It's unclear if that person was in the store at the time or in the other car. Inspectors with L.A. County Building and Safety are being called into assess the damage and determine the structural integrity of the gas station. The exact cause and circumstances of the crash were unclear.

PIT Maneuver Ends CHP Chase In South Gate; 2 In Custody
Two men were taken into custody after a chase through Los Angeles County ended in South Gate Thursday afternoon. AIR7 HD was over the chase around 5 p.m. as the driver in a red Honda was driving on surface streets in South L.A. The suspect drove on the wrong side of the road several times to evade CHP units. As the chase kept going, the suspect appeared to circle back to the same streets in the South L.A. neighborhood, going at speeds around 40 mph. At one point, the suspect appeared to slightly hit another vehicle at an intersection and kept driving. When the chase returned to South Gate, the driver weaved past a spike strip and kept going. CHP units caught up to the vehicle and performed a PIT maneuver on the red Honda in the area of Seville Avenue and California Street in South Gate. The driver and a passenger surrendered without incident as CHP units gathered at the scene, bringing an end to the chase that lasted more than an hour. It was not immediately known why authorities initiated the pursuit.

L.A. Businessman Who Paid $40K In Daughter's ACT Exam Cheat Scheme Gets 2 Months In Prison
The founder of a private equity firm who paid $40,000 to have someone secretly correct his daughter's ACT exam answers was sentenced Thursday to two months in prison for his role in the college admissions bribery scheme. Before the judge handed down his sentence, Mark Hauser cried as he asked for forgiveness and said had been driven only by a desire to help his youngest daughter, who has struggled throughout her life with serious medical issues. “I know medical challenges are not an excuse,” Hauser said during the hearing held in Boston's federal court. “I was in a really bad place with her struggles. I was not trying to establish prestige for myself or for my daughter. My only concern was to help her catch her breath,” he said. Lawyers for “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, said during their sentencing hearings last year that Hauser was the one who recommended they work with the ringleader of the college bribery scheme, Rick Singer.

Charges Could Come Friday For Suspect In BB Gun Freeway Shootings
A 34-year-old Anaheim man who was arrested this week in connection with at least one BB gun shooting on the 91 Freeway in Riverside County could face charges as soon as Friday. Jesse Leal Rodriguez remains under arrest in the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside. The window to file charges closes Friday because of the suspect's right to a speedy arraignment. California Highway Patrol is investigating whether Rodriguez is linked to the spree of shootings in which BBs or pellets have shattered the windows of more than 100 vehicles on freeways in Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties since May 4. The vast majority of the shootings have occurred on the 91 Freeway. No one has been seriously injured in them. Rodriguez was arrested late Tuesday night near the Galleria at Tyler shopping mall. After Rodriguez was detained by Riverside police, he was turned over to the CHP for questioning. Authorities said a vehicle window was blasted at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on the 91 Freeway near Pierce Street, and the driver was able to give law enforcement a vehicle description — a red SUV with no license plates. A short time later, another person whose vehicle came under fire gave authorities the same description, and officers located Rodriguez's SUV at the shopping mall.

Aiden Leos Shooting: CHP Releases Photo Of Suspect Vehicle
Authorities have released new information on the suspect vehicle in the Aiden Leos shooting. On Thursday night, the California Highway Patrol released a photo of the suspect vehicle, a white Volkswagen Golf Sportswagen, that was occupied by a female driver and a male passenger at the time of the shooting last week that killed a 6-year-old boy who was on his way to school. The little boy was shot and killed on the 55 Freeway in the city of Orange on May 21. A cumulative $310,000 is now being offered as a reward in the case for anyone who can provide information that helps lead to an arrest. CHP said the Volkswagen did not have tinted windows at the time of the deadly shooting. After the shooting, the suspect vehicle continued northbound 55 Freeway to the eastbound lanes of the 91 Freeway towards the city of Riverside, CHP said. Anyone with information on the suspect(s) is asked to call 714-567-6000. 
FOX 11

Traffic Officers Will Be Out In Force Over Memorial Day Weekend, CHP Says
Law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County and around the state will be out in force over the Memorial Day weekend, beginning Friday, on the lookout for motorists driving while impaired or violating other traffic laws. The "maximum enforcement period" will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and will continue through 11:59 p.m. Monday, according to the California Highway Patrol. "Officers will be watching carefully for distracted drivers and those who are impaired by drugs or alcohol," CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said in a statement. "Seat belts save lives every day, yet some people still don't buckle up," Ray said. "Start the holiday weekend off right by making sure you and your passengers are properly restrained." Nearly four out of five -- 78% -- of the people killed in a crash within CHP jurisdiction during the 2020 Memorial Day weekend were not wearing a seat belt, Ray said. Statewide, at least 31 people died in a crash during the holiday weekend in 2020. Also, CHP officers made 854 arrests for impaired driving during that time, Ray said.

Gunman Faced VTA Disciplinary Hearing On Day Of Attack
NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit has learned that the gunman who shot and killed nine VTA co-workers before taking his own life Wednesday was under investigation for allegedly making racist remarks to coworkers and was scheduled to attend a disciplinary hearing on the day of the attack. According to law enforcement sources, Samuel Cassidy, 57, had been the subject of recent complaints including accusations that he was making inappropriate racial remarks to colleagues while on the job as a station maintenance worker. Authorities with knowledge of the investigation say the gunman had also reportedly boasted to coworkers about having guns and explosives. It remains unclear, however, what authorities knew about those allegations, and whether they were to be discussed at a so-called Skelly hearing set for the shooter later Wednesday. Sheriff's investigators issued a statement Thursday describing the gunman as a “a highly disgruntled VTA employee for many years” but did not go further in attributing any specific motive. The gunman appears to have been known to some federal authorities prior to Wednesday's attack. The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents questioned the gunman in 2016 after finding books about terrorism and a notebook filled with notes detailing his hatred for his employer.
NBC Bay Area

San Jose Mass Shooting: VTA Killer Evaded California's Tough Gun Laws
The smoke had barely cleared after Wednesday's deadly rampage by a disgruntled maintenance worker at a San Jose light rail yard when it became the focus of the nation's fevered debate over gun laws. The Bay Area's deadliest mass shooting prompted President Joe Biden to urge Congress to “help end this epidemic of gun violence in America.” Gov. Gavin Newsom visited the scene and recalled another mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in 2019. Advocates for stricter gun laws argued that this latest in a series of mass shootings nationally is proof of the need for more federal laws. But the massacre of nine workers at Valley Transportation Authority's maintenance yard also unfolded in a state that has enacted the most extensive restrictions on firearm ownership in the country, prompting gun-rights advocates to declare them not only ineffective but counterproductive. “California's ‘no gun' policies were completely ignored by the killer,” said Aidan Johnston, director of federal affairs for Gun Owners of America. “Did that stop the mass murderer? No. Did it leave law-abiding citizens defenseless? Yes.”
Mercury News

Man Arrested After Opening Fire On Officers At Texas Home
Three police officers escaped major injury after they were fired upon by a man during a standoff at a home in a Dallas suburb, police said Thursday. Officers were responding to a call of a suicidal person when the 60-year-old man opened fire on them late Wednesday, Flower Mound police said. All three officers wore protective gear that prevented major injury, Police Chief Andy Kancel said. “With patience and professionalism we averted a great tragedy,” he said. In statements posted online, police earlier said that the three officers were shot and wounded. Kancel specified Thursday that one was struck by fragments, one was injured by glass after a bullet struck a ballistic shield and one was shot in the chest, but armor prevented major injury. Police had returned fire but the man was not struck, Kancel said. The man, whose name hasn't been released, surrendered shortly after 5:30 a.m. after a SWAT team used tear gas in the home, Kancel said. The man was taken to a hospital because of the tear gas exposure but was expected to be arrested after he is released from the hospital, Kancel said.
Associated Press

Democrats Ignore The Crime Spike At Their Own Peril
On the anniversary of the death of George Floyd, dozens of gunshots rang out in the middle of the day at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis, forcing reporters and bystanders to duck and cover. The symbolism was unmistakable—the yearlong bout of protest and activism after Floyd's killing has coincided with a surge of urban crime that has made gunplay dismayingly common. Indeed, the intersection where Floyd was killed, now a memorial blocked to vehicular traffic, has become a watchword for mayhem, with frightened delivery drivers steering clear and periodic gun battles. The issue of public safety may be about to play its most significant role in our politics since the mid-1990s, the beginning of a decades-long decline in crime that steadily eroded its political salience. Donald Trump tried to make law and order a defining issue in 2020, but the rioting he so forcefully denounced was, in most places, too transitory to become an overwhelming issue. He was also in the awkward position of trying to run against disorder as an incumbent rather than a challenger, and his chaotic governing style wasn't a good match for a message of orderliness. But now, more than a year into a serious crime wave, Democrats should beware—they are fooling themselves if they think they won't be blamed for a rise in violence in Democratic-run cities that clearly, at some level, is a result of police forces feeling beleaguered and overwhelmed. Overall, murder increased by more than 25 percent in the United States last year, the biggest jump in 60 years. Murders jumped nearly 50 percent in New York City. Crime increased 36 percent in Los Angeles. And the story is the same in city after city.

Citizen says it's not starting its own private security force -- but it won't rule out hiring someone else to do it
Citizen, an app that started as a service for real-time crime alerts made waves late last week with news that it was testing a private, on-demand security force, after a company-branded patrol car  was spotted  in Los Angeles. Now the company has said that test is over, and that it will not launch its own private security force in the future -- but would not rule out partnerships with other companies that would accomplish the same thing.

Public Safety News

To Get Better Control Over California's Wildfires, Lawmakers Push 11 Bills Aimed At Reducing Threats
A group of California lawmakers on Thursday touted 11 bills they're advancing to get better control of the worsening wildfires that have razed towns and neighborhoods across the state in recent years. The legislative package moving through the state Senate covers four areas: wildfire prevention, workforce training, home insurance and funding. Those areas are outlined in a policy blueprint from a subset of Senate Democrats who have been working on wildfire issues for the past two years. The bills are progressing to the Senate floor as California grapples with a deepening drought and an increase in fire activity compared to the same period last year, with the most dangerous months still to come. Among the bills being advocated by the fire-focused senators is SB45, which would place a $5.6 billion bond before voters next year. It would fund projects to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and help communities burned in past disasters recover while also providing money for wetland protection, making the state's water supplies more drought-resistant and other efforts.
San Francisco Chronicle

Local Government News

LA City Council Approves Paid Time Off For Getting COVID-19 Vaccine
Businesses of all sizes in the city of Los Angeles would be required to provide workers with supplemental paid sick leave to obtain COVID-19 vaccines and recover from any possible side effects under a measure heading toward Mayor Eric Garcetti's desk Thursday. The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved a motion by Councilman Paul Koretz that would require employers to provide up to four hours of paid time off to obtain each injection, and up to eight hours for recovery from any side effects. State law already requires employers with 25 or more workers to provide 80 hours of COVID-19-related sick leave for full-time employees. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a measure last week covering smaller employers in unincorporated areas. The action approved by the council covers employers of any size within the city to provide the paid time off for vaccinations and recovery, if necessary.

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: