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

August 23, 2021
Law Enforcement News

LAPD Is Short About 300 Officers But The Chief Hopes To Fill The Gap
The Los Angeles Police Department has 296 empty officer positions and almost 500 fewer officers on duty than it did this time last year, according to LAPD reports. The shortage signals the department's officer-retention and budgeting woes in addition to the challenges of the pandemic and the 2020 uprisings after the murder of George Floyd when thousands locally took to the streets to call for reform, defunding police departments, and finding public-safety alternatives to policing. Earlier this summer, the city approved the funds for 9,706 sworn personnel, yet as of July 296 of those positions remained vacant. (In 2020, the number of officers dipped below 10,000, the lowest level in more than a decade.) LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he hopes to fill the vacancies by the end of the fiscal year, in June 2022. “That's 296 I hope to see us add to our ranks,” he said during the Police Commission meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 20. The department had 486 fewer officers than it did this time last year, according to LAPD reports. In addition to the 296 posts being filled, it had 144 more officers than it was budgeted for and 46 other officer positions that since have been carved out of the force's budget. Part of the reason for the 296-strong gap the chief wants to fill is that 631 sworn personnel across the ranks left the department last fiscal year, for retirement, job change or other reason including 2020's civil unrest that left some frustrated or weary. Los Angeles Daily News

Deadly Double Shooting Saturday In South Los Angeles
Police are investigating a deadly double shooting that occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday in South Los Angeles where a male victim was killed and a teenage girl wounded. The incident occurred at about 12:25 a.m. near Denker Avenue and 66th Street. The victims were seated in a vehicle when a motorist in another vehicle drove up and fired shots before driving away, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Officials said the 29-year-old man was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 17-year-old girl was transported to the hospital in critical condition. It's unclear what lead to the shooting. CBS 2

Coronavirus Pandemic Blamed As Key Factor In LA's Spiking Homicide Rate
The number of homicides reported in Los Angeles each year were at historic lows for at least a decade before COVID-19 started to spread across the U.S. Then the number of killings spiked in 2020 and continued to climb through the first half of 2021, records show. In 2019, the homicide rate was one of the lowest recorded in the city since the 1960s, said Officer Norma Eisenman, a Los Angeles Police Department spokeswoman. But it shot up 34% in 2020, the single largest increase in over half a decade. Psychological strain and economic hardship stemming from the coronavirus pandemic contributed to an increase in killings recorded not just in Los Angeles, but across California and in cities and suburbs nationwide, according to a report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice released in June. The organization aims “to reduce society's reliance on incarceration as a solution to social problems.” But many in law enforcement contend that the release of inmates to lessen crowding in jails and prisons because of the pandemic has encouraged them to commit more crimes. “What we are seeing and hearing from our officers on the street is that criminals don't feel like they have to face any consequences,” San Bernardino Police Chief Eric McBride said in an interview last week. There were a total of 355 homicides in Los Angeles last year, compared to 256 reported in 2019, said LAPD Officer Tony Im. And so far this year, 239 homicides occurred in Los Angeles as of Aug. 14, according to crime statistics released by police. Los Angeles Daily News

L.A. Felon Charged With Shooting New Mexico Officers
A felon from California has been charged with opening fire on Albuquerque police officers, severely wounding one officer and injuring three others after they responded to a robbery. Officer Mario Verbeck remained in critical condition Friday after being shot in the neck just above his bulletproof vest. Officer James Eichel is recovering from a gunshot wound to the forearm, and Sgt. Sean Kenny was saved by his bulletproof vest when he was shot in the chest. Officer Harry Gunderson was hit in the face by glass and fragments as he took cover behind a police vehicle during the gunfight that broke out Thursday morning on the city's northeast side. A criminal complaint identifies the suspect as James Ramirez, 27, of Los Angeles. He's charged with three counts of aggravated battery against a police officer, armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a felon and resisting evading or obstructing an officer. Ramirez, who was shot and injured, was recovering at an Albuquerque hospital. Court records show an attorney has not yet been appointed. The shooting comes as Albuquerque deals with a record-setting year of deadly violence and mounting frustration among residents and law enforcement. The violence also has revived criticism of the state's no-money bail system, ushered in by a statewide vote in 2016. KTLA 5

Two Youth Group Members Hospitalized Because Of Suspected Illegal Substance Near Venice Boardwalk
Two members of a youth group were hospitalized Saturday afternoon after a suspected illegal substance made them sick near the Venice boardwalk, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. One person was hospitalized in grave condition and the other was in serious condition with an “altered level of consciousness,” said LAFD spokesman Brian Humphrey. The young people, believed to be teenagers, suddenly fell ill just before 3 p.m. near the intersection of Venice Boulevard and Ocean Front Walk, Humphrey said. They were believed to have separated at some point from the group. It was unclear “whether they had used or come into contact with the still-undetermined substance,” Humphrey said. Los Angeles police officers, Humphrey said, were interviewing the other young people with them, and there appeared to be several different stories about what happened. No other members of the group became ill, Humphrey said. The patients' ages, genders, cities of residence, and the group with which they were affiliated were not immediately clear, he said. “We were very busy trying to keep these two alive,” Humphrey said. Los Angeles Times

Lamborghini Involved In Suspected DUI Late-Night Crash In Hollywood: LAPD
A Lamborghini SUV crashed into multiple parked cars in Hollywood early Saturday morning, but there were no major injuries, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The luxury vehicle crashed in the 6500 block of Selma Avenue at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, according to LAPD Officer Tony Im. The male driver lost control of the car, and he and an unknown number of passengers sustained minor injuries, Im said. The driver was also arrested, as he was suspected of driving under the influence. Investigators are still trying to determine how fast the Lamborghini was traveling at the time of the crash, Im added. On Instagram, the LAPD's Hollywood Division said “high speeds + drunk driver + 2am in our bar district” is “a combination that could've led to an extremely tragic outcome.” The alleged DUI is “totally unacceptable,” the department added. KTLA 5

Bicyclist Killed In Hit-And-Run In Venice Area; Motorist Sought
A bicyclist was killed today in a hit-and-run in the Venice area, and police sought public help to find the motorist responsible for her death. The woman was injured about 3 a.m. near Pacific and Rose avenues and died at a hospital, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Information on her identity was not immediately available. The woman ``was riding in circles in the middle of the intersection'' when she was hit by a black ``large-sized'' SUV, possibly a Chevrolet Suburban, police said in a statement. Anyone with information on the case was urged to call police at 213- 473-0236 or 213-473-0234; 877-LAPD-247; or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Westside Current

Suspect Arrested After Stabbing Street Vendor In Boyle Heights
A street vendor is recovering after being violently stabbed in Boyle Heights. Officers responded to the 1900 block of East 1st street around 5 p.m. Wednesday after receiving reports of a stabbing. According to the victim's daughter, a transient started attacking her father. While trying to escape, her father fell to the floor and the suspect started stabbing him multiple times. According to a GoFundMe page, the victim sustained a laceration on his liver. LAPD officers arrested 27-year-old Michael Ramirez for attempted murder. Ramirez has a history of assault and battery. Ignacio Torres is well known to the community, having been a street vendor for nearly 20 years. A GoFundMe page was created on Torres's behalf to cover his medical expenses, as it will be months before he can return to work. FOX 11

LAPD Rarely Uses Its Drones But Says They Are A ‘Tremendous Tool'
In the two-plus-years since the Los Angeles Police Department received approval to fly drones during certain situations, officers have used the devices but a handful of times and only to flush out hidden suspects, officials said. The Los Angeles Police Department's SWAT officers have used a department drone just five times since August 2020, commanders of the program said in their report to the Police Commission. Each time, officers at the scene brought in a drone after they encountered a barricaded suspect or someone else who they believed was armed. “It has been a tremendous tool,” said Capt. Craig Valenzuela of LAPD's Metro Division. “But it has been used very sparingly.” The caution from LAPD reflects years of controversy over its drones, which resemble tiny helicopters with four rotors outfitted with equipment such as night-vision cameras and speakers. Since 2014, the department has received intense criticism from some community members concerned that the LAPD would use the nimble machines for frequent surveillance. That year, LAPD received two drones from the Seattle Police Department. Both were destroyed before they were ever used, because of community pushback. In 2018, LAPD tried again with drones, launching a pilot program. Within a year, the Police Commission signed off on them becoming permanent tools of the department but with caveats: LAPD's drones are only to be used in the most serious incidents, such as standoffs and hostage situations. Los Angeles Daily News

Potential Suspect Detained After Brush Fire In Shadow Hills Area Of LA
Firefighters knocked down a small brush fire Sunday in Shadow Hills that charred about an acre of grass and a possible arson suspect was taken into police custody, authorities said. The blaze, which began burning near 8300 W. La Tuna Canyon Road, near the 210 Freeway, was reported at 4:43 p.m., said Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart. Firefighters remained at the scene to put out any hot spots that might flare up, Stewart said. A potential arson suspect was detained by the Fire Department and taken into custody by the Los Angeles Police Department, Stewart said. No further information on that person was immediately available. No victims were reported and no structures were threatened. Los Angeles Daily News

LAPD Search For Man, 75, With Alzheimer's, Diabetes Missing In Highland Park
Police continued their search Sunday for a missing 75-year-old man with diabetes and Alzheimer's disease who was last seen in the Highland Park area. Leonard Ramos Martinez was last seen Thursday in the 5900 block of Monterey Road, near Avenue 60, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. Martinez is Hispanic. He stands 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs about 175 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a black and blue baseball cap, a black athletic shirt, dark denim jeans and black leather loafers. Anyone with information on Martinez's whereabouts was asked to call the LAPD Missing Persons Unit at 213-996-1800 or 911. Calls during non-business hours or on weekends should be made to 877-527-3247. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.

Shooting In Compton Leaves Man Critically Wounded; LASD Investigating
Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives are investigating a shooting that left a man critically injured early Sunday morning in Compton, officials said. The incident happened at about 1:09 a.m. on the 1400 block of East Alondra Boulevard, according to a news release from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. Deputies responded to the scene after receiving a call about an assault with a deadly weapon. When they arrived, they found a man on the ground suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said. The wounded man, who has not been identified but was described as a 40-year-old Black man, was transported to a local hospital where he was listed in critical condition. No suspect descriptions were immediately available, and the incident remains under investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact LASD's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or visit the website . KTLA 5

Harvey Weinstein Set To Be Arraigned Monday On New Indictment
Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein — who is facing sex-related charges — is set to be arraigned Monday on a new grand jury indictment, which restores a count that had been dismissed by a judge after the defense argued it was barred by the statute of limitations. The latest grand jury indictment, handed up Wednesday, charges Weinstein again with the challenged count of sexual battery by restraint against a woman in May 2010. It marks the third time the prosecution has asked the grand jury to amend the indictment against the 69-year-old Weinstein, who was initially indicted in March on 11 counts involving five women. The challenged count is the only charge involving one of the five alleged victims. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lisa B. Lench initially sustained the defense's challenge to that count at a July 29 hearing, but agreed to allow the prosecution the opportunity to seek a grand jury indictment to amend the indictment. “We believe that it will never succeed,” one of Weinstein's attorneys, Mark Werksman, said after an Aug. 12 hearing in which the charge was dismissed.

Suspect Who Shot Texas Deputy Arrested After Manhunt
An Arlington man accused in the shooting of a deputy with the Clay County Sheriff's Office was arrested Wednesday morning after a brief foot chase in Arlington, the Clay County sheriff said. In a Facebook Live video, Clay County Sheriff Jeff Lyde identified the suspect as Joshua Lee Green. At about 10 a.m. Wednesday, Green, 31, was located at an Arlington hotel in the 4000 block of Scots Legacy Drive, where a SWAT team and local police who are members of the U.S. Marshals North Texas Fugitive Task Force arrived with a warrant, according to Arlington police. Green ran across Interstate 20 before he was taken into custody, Lyde said in the Facebook post Wednesday morning. The shooting occurred shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday near Jolly, Texas, in Clay County. Jolly is about 10 miles southeast of Wichita Falls. Deputy Breanton Chitwood had stopped a Cadillac for speeding, the sheriff said, and he approached the window. Lyde noted that the license plate did not match the car. As the deputy approached the window, Green shot him, but the deputy was saved by his bulletproof vest, the sheriff said. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

60th NYPD Officer Dies Of COVID
The NYPD reached a grim milestone Friday as the department's 60th member died from COVID, police said. Officer Sony Clerge died Friday morning, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a memo to his officers. “Fluent in French and Creole, Sony worked his entire 19-year career assigned to Transit Borough Manhattan Task Force, where his efforts helped make our city's subway system a safer, more hospitable place for millions of riders,” Shea wrote. Clerge is the third member of the NYPD to die from COVID complications in recent days. School crossing guard Pauline Soto died Monday, and Detective Shantay Neal-Baker died last Saturday, according to police. NYPD personnel who have died of COVID include police officers and detectives, civilian employees, auxiliary volunteers, school and traffic safety officers and crossing guards. New York Daily News

Public Safety News

Firefighters Knock Down Blaze That Burned Auto-Body Shop In Lynwood
Fire crews knocked down a blaze that engulfed an auto-body shop in Lynwood Sunday afternoon. The fire was reported around 12:20 p.m. in the 2900 block of East Imperial Highway and was extinguished by about 2 p.m., according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The blaze had threatened multiple nearby structures, officials said. First arriving units reported seeing smoke and fire showing from the auto-body shop. It's unclear what ignited the fire, which was seen from miles away down the 105 Freeway. Photos from the scene showed a thick cloud of dark smoke over the commercial building. No injuries had been reported as of 1:30 p.m. and crews have started overhaul operations, LAFD tweeted. No further details were immediately available.  KTLA 5

LA Health Officials Urge Testing, Contact Tracing Amid COVID Delta Surge
Echoing pleas from the early days of the pandemic, Los Angeles County health officials urged residents Friday to get tested for COVID-19 if they develop any symptoms or believe they were exposed to the virus, and cooperate with contract-tracers if they call. The county on Friday also confirmed another 31 fatalities due to COVID, including one person between the ages of 12 and 17. The death -- a patient with underlying health conditions -- brought to seven the number of children under age 18 who have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. Two of them were under age 12 and five were between 12 and 17. The 31 new fatalities increased the pandemic's death toll in the county to 25,032. Another 3,361 cases of COVID-19 were also confirmed by county health officials on Friday, raising the cumulative total from throughout the pandemic to 1,376,551. The rolling daily rate of people testing positive for the virus was 3.6% as of Friday. The number of COVID-positive patients in county hospitals dipped slightly for the second day in a row, falling to 1,775 from the Thursday total of 1,786, according to state figures. There were 427 people in intensive care, up from 414 on Thursday. FOX 11

Coronavirus: L.A. County Reported 3,361 New Cases And 31 New Deaths With 63% Fully Vaccinated
Los Angeles County public health officials reported 3,361 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases to 1,376,551 as of Thursday, Aug. 19. The total number of cases represents 13.6% of Los Angeles County's population. Officials reported 31 new deaths linked to the coronavirus, for a total 25,032 deaths since tracking began. The total number of deaths represents 0.25% of Los Angeles County's population. There were four fewer hospitalizations reported since Thursday, bringing the official count of hospitalizations to 1,786, with 23% in ICU. According to the California Department of Public Health's vaccines dashboard, 63% of Los Angeles County is fully vaccinated and more than 11,771,230 vaccine doses have been administered as of Aug. 19.  Los Angeles Daily News

FDA Grants Full Approval For Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it has granted full approval to Pfizer and BioNTech for their COVID-19 vaccine to be given to Americans as young as 16, clearing the way for a wave of moves that health officials say could reverse a nationwide slowdown in the pace of first doses. The approval caps a months-long "sprint" by the FDA to clear the shot's final remaining regulatory hurdles in record time, scrutinizing reams of the company's latest safety data and conducting inspections at Pfizer's vaccine factories around the world. "While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today's milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S.," said the FDA's Acting Commissioner Janet Woodcock said in a statement. Pfizer completed its submission of a "biologics license application" for the shot in May, providing the extensive documentation required for full approval, and has told investors it plans to seek full approval for younger age groups and a booster shot. Moderna said it plans to finish its application this month. Johnson & Johnson, which is currently gathering data from trials of two-dose regimens, also plans to file for full approval this year. Pfizer's vaccine has been available since December under an Emergency Use Authorization, which was expanded in May to include children ages 12 and up. CBS News

California's Wildfires Already Erratic; Worst May Be Ahead
Smoke from California's wildfires choked people on the East Coast. Flames wiped out a gold rush-era town. The acreage burned would dwarf the state of Rhode Island. Images of homes engulfed in flames and mountains glowing like lava would make it easy to conclude the Golden State is a charred black landscape. That's hardly the case, but the frightening reality is that the worst may be yet to come. California has already surpassed the acreage burned at this point last year, which ended up setting the record. Now it's entering a period when powerful winds have often driven the deadliest blazes. "Here we are — it's not the end of August and the size and distribution and the destruction of summer 2021 wildfires does not bode well for the next months," said Bill Deverell, a University of Southern California history professor who teaches about fire in the West. "The suggestion of patterns across the last two decades in the West is deeply unsettling and worrisome: hotter, bigger, more fires." More than a dozen large wildfires are burning in California grass, brush and forest that is exceptionally dry from two years of drought likely exacerbated by climate change. The fires, mainly in the northern part of the state, have burned more than 1 million acres, or 2,000 square miles. FOX 11

Local Government News

Amidst Neighborhood Opposition, Council Set To Vote On Jackson Avenue Gate Opening Project
The potential opening of a gate to the Ballona Creek Bike Path on Jackson Avenue will be voted on at Monday's council meeting, but not without facing a great deal of opposition in the form of a petition from residents in the area surrounding the gate. The petition — which was submitted with 320 signatures from residents near Jackson Avenue — is the most central piece of a four year movement to prevent the city from opening the gate, which has been used only for maintenance since its inception. For the city, the refurbishment and use of the Jackson Avenue entrance was a starting point for the city's initiative to revitalize Ballona Creek, first introduced in 2016. When the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) requested council take up the matter following their approval of the project this past May, the committee cited its location as an opportunity to provide a protected route for people in the area without having to access entrances on high traffic streets like Overland, Culver, Farragut, and Braddock. The committee also argues it will decrease overall traffic in these areas, and encourage more people to travel outside of motor powered vehicles. Culver City News

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: