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 26, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Suspect Who Beat Woman To Death With Baseball Bat Arrested After Standoff With LAPD
A homicide suspect was taken into custody after an hours-long standoff inside a home in the Arlington Heights area. The suspect, identified as Joshua Ramos, is suspected of beating a woman to death with a baseball bat. Officers responded to the 2300 block of Venice Boulevard around 8:15 a.m. for reports of an assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Paramedics rushed the woman to the hospital where she later died. Meanwhile, investigators say Ramos ran back to his house and barricaded himself inside. Officers evacuated eight neighbors and after 5 hours of SWAT tactics and negotiations…they took Ramos into custody. Images from SkyFOX showed several officers with their guns drawn walking towards the front door of the house as they prepared to take Ramos into custody. Fernando Meza woke up to the sirens and videoed this from his balcony. LAPD says Ramos might have been under the influence.  FOX 11

Police accountability: Transparency measure SB16 faces crucial test in California legislature
A pitched battle over expanding California's landmark police transparency law will play out in Sacramento on Thursday as lawmakers decide whether Californians have a right to know more about incidents where police face accusations of using excessive force or engaging in discriminatory behavior. A coalition of police agencies, including the Los Angeles Protective League and the San Francisco Police Officers Association, said in an open letter to Skinner that the bill will require the release of “unfounded, unsubstantiated complaints to the public. “We cannot fathom why false information should be released and amplified and further do not understand how this is supposed to improve the quality of policing in California,” the coalition wrote. Mercury News

California Officer Shot While Serving Warrant Needs Leg Amputated
Modesto police Officer Michael "Mikey" Rokaitis must have at least part of his right leg amputated as a result of the gunshot wound he suffered earlier this month. "(Doctors) did everything they could to save it and waited as long as they could, but it's time," Rokaitis' wife, Megan, posted on Facebook. "We just want him awake and home at this point." The Modesto Police Department in a Facebook post Monday said Officer Rokaitis already had undergone six surgeries since being shot Aug. 14 and has more ahead of him. "We are hoping that they will be able to amputate below the knee, as that will be the easier route to recovery and mobility in the future, but they won't know until they get in there whether it will happen below or above the knee," Megan Rokaitis wrote. Michael Rokaitis was shot twice, once in his ballistic vest and a second time below his vest in his lower abdomen. The gunshot injured an artery to his right leg. He was shot while serving a search warrant at home on East Orangeburg Avenue following a pursuit. Four people have been arrested and charged in connection with the shooting and a fifth is wanted. Modesto Bee

Attacks On Transgender Women Expose MS-13 Gang's Grip
On MacArthur Park Night settled on a woman sitting alone on a bench in MacArthur Park. Three people moved toward her. One locked an arm around the woman's throat as the others pulled out knives and began to stab her. The attack in October marked the second time in weeks that a transgender woman had been stabbed nearly to death in the Los Angeles park by members of MS-13, a street gang that considers the park the heart of its territory. The vicious assaults drew condemnation from advocacy groups and a heavy police presence to the park as a straightforward narrative emerged: MS-13 had been motivated by a hateful, bigoted desire to rid its turf of transgender people. Left unmentioned, however, were the tangled underworld economics that brought the women and the gang into contact in the first place. The women had been paying members of MS-13 a weekly fee — “taxes” in the gang's words — simply for permission to be in the park, according to police reports and interviews with victims and the police. They were among the street vendors, drug dealers, sex workers, shopkeepers and others who every day must pay for a commodity those in more affluent neighborhoods do not even know exists — the right to be left alone by a gang. The Times reviewed search warrant affidavits, police reports and other records filed in court and interviewed police officers and victims of MS-13. What emerged was a portrait of a gang that acts as a shadow authority in MacArthur Park and other parts of the city it considers its turf, deciding in some cases who is permitted in public spaces and who can engage in commerce, legitimate and illicit. Los Angeles Times

One Dead In South Los Angeles Collision
One person was trapped underneath a vehicle following a collision and died Wednesday evening in South Los Angeles. Los Angeles Police Department officers and Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded at 9:45 p.m. to 6124 S. Eighth Ave., between Slauson Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard, said Brian Humphrey of the LAFD. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. No other injuries were reported, Humphrey said.

9 Defendants Added To San Fernando Valley Gang Indictment That Includes 11 Murders
Nine new defendants and a series of previously uncharged murders are now included in a Los Angeles federal grand jury indictment that significantly expands a wide-ranging racketeering indictment targeting an arm of a transnational street gang. The 18-count updated indictment, unsealed Tuesday, Aug. 24, following the arrests of four defendants, alleges that members and associates of a San Fernando Valley subset of the gang murdered 11 people, five of whom were hacked to death with machetes or knives in the Angeles National Forest. The indictment, which was filed on Aug. 5, adds nine defendants to the previous version of the indictment and nearly doubles the number of charged murders, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. In addition to murders previously charged in the case — including one in which the victim was dismembered — the new indictment includes the January 2019 murder of a man who was fatally shot in a remote area near Santa Clarita and whose remains were not recovered until the Tick Fire burned the area 10 months later. Of the 11 murders alleged in the indictment, five victims allegedly were killed with machetes or knives, while six allegedly were shot to death. Los Angeles Daily News

California Homicide Rise Becomes Recall Rallying Cry, But Experts Question Newsom's Role
An image of crime tape flashes across the screen. A woman says, “we don't feel safe anymore,” adding that “crime is surging” in California. The solution, the ad paid for by a Republican group argues, is to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. Republicans looking to replace Newsom in next month's election say the governor is “soft on crime” and to blame for the state's increase in violent crime, pointing to a rise in homicides as a reason voters should approve the recall. But researchers who study crime rates say the surge is much more complicated than the attack ads suggest, and that the causes for it likely extend well beyond the policies of one governor or even one state. “Most cities across the United States saw increases,” said Aaron Chalfin, a professor of criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. In California, homicides rose 31% between 2019 and 2020, with firearms used in three-quarters of those deaths, according to the state's Homicide Report published by the Department of Justice. That report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic had unknown impacts on crime data that warrant further analysis. Chalfin said the United States experienced a 25% overall increase in homicides last year during the COVID-19 pandemic, the largest one-year jump since reliable tracking began in 1960. Crime — and particularly homicide — rates are still much lower than the violent years of the 1980s and 1990s. Los Angeles Times

Porn Star Ron Jeremy Indicted On More Than 30 Sexual Assault Charges, LA County Prosecutors Say
Adult film star Ron Jeremy has been indicted on more than 30 sexual assault counts involving 21 victims dating back more than twenty years, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office announced. According to prosecutors, Ron Jeremy Hyatt, 68, on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to: Twelve counts of forcible rape, seven counts of forcible oral copulation, six counts of sexual battery by restraint, four counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of sexual penetration of an unconscious or asleep person, and one count each of lewd act upon a child under the age of 14 or 15, sodomy by use of force and assault with intent to commit rape. A grand jury returned the indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday. Jeremy is accused of sexually assaulting more than 20 women over a 23-year span dating back to 1996, the DA's office said. The victims range in age from 15 to 51. A 17-year-old was raped at a Woodland Hills home in 2008, prosecutors contend. The other alleged victims include a 19-year-old woman who was raped during a photo shoot in the San Fernando Valley; a 26-year-old woman who was raped at a party in a nightclub; a 38-year-old who was sexually assaulted at a West Hollywood bar where Jeremy was a regular; a woman who was sexually assaulted at Jeremy's home and a woman who was assaulted at a strip club. ABC 7

USC Receiver Won't Be Charged In Domestic Violence Case
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will not file criminal charges against USC receiver Bru McCoy who was arrested last month on suspicion of felony intimate partner violence, according to a report published Wednesday evening. The District Attorney's Office cited insufficient evidence when asked about its decision but offered no further details, the Los Angeles Times reported. “We appreciate the careful consideration by both the District Attorney's Office and LAPD,” Michael Goldstein, McCoy's attorney, said in a statement to The Times. “We always trusted the process and the right decision was made.” McCoy was suspended from team activities following his July 24 arrest. USC said in a statement McCoy's status with the team is “unchanged.”

Judge Wants DA To Wrap Up Questioning Of Robert Durst
The judge in Robert Durst's murder trial said Wednesday he wants the lead prosecutor to wrap up his questioning of the real estate scion, who during 10 days on the stand has repeatedly denied that he killed a longtime friend in her Benedict Canyon home two decades ago. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham noted that Durst spent 24 hours being questioned by lead defense attorney Dick DeGuerin and that Deputy District Attorney John Lewin will have spent 38 hours cross-examining the 78-year-old defendant when testimony wraps up for the week on Thursday afternoon. “So, I would think the following is true. First of all, the defendant's testimony was not credible,” the judge told attorneys after jurors left court for the day. “Secondly, on day one, it appeared that you really effectively destroyed any possible credibility of this witness … At some point, there's a limit. It doesn't seem there's any further purpose. It seems additional questioning would be an undue consumption of time.” The judge — who said he's been getting notes from jurors — warned the prosecutor that he wanted him to finish his cross-examination by the end of the day Thursday, when Durst is set to resume his testimony.

Why Newsom Is In Trouble
These days, the messiah of All Politics Is Local here is Alex Villanueva, the Los Angeles County sheriff. “Nothing will change your political viewpoint more than a transient taking a shit in your front yard,” he told me. Villanueva is a Democrat, elected in 2018, but he's since gone full-blown Law and Order, appearing on Fox News to belittle “woke privileged Democrats” who want a more “compassionate” approach to criminals and homeless people. “The Democratic Party of 2021 has smoked some powerful stuff that's made them blind to what's happening on the ground,” he said. “Democrats think party loyalty alone is going to help them survive? They're fooling themselves. This has nothing to do with politics. It's not a Trump thing, it's not a Republican thing. Normal people just want normal stuff they should expect from a functioning government and civil society.” That frustration is on full display in Venice. After an outcry from westside residents fed up with the homelessness, crime, fires, and rampant drug use all around them, Mike Bonin, the progressive city councilman representing parts of Venice and the westside, finally put into motion a plan to clean up the tent encampments along the Venice boardwalk this summer. But it might be too late to save his political career. Bonin is facing a recall effort of his own over his slow response to the homelessness crisis, supported by plenty of local Democrats who listen to NPR, practice yoga, and drink green smoothies. National Review

Help Needed To Identify Canyon Country Kidnapper
The public's help is needed Wednesday to identify a man authorities say kidnapped a woman as she was walking in Canyon Country. The kidnapping happened on Aug. 5 on Lost Canyon Road, near Harriman Drive. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the woman was able to escape shortly after, but the suspect remains at large. Authorities released a composite sketch of the kidnapper, whose face in the sketch is unfortunately mostly obscured by a face mask. He was described as a 5-foot-7, 185-pound Hispanic man with a muscular build, brown hair, and brown eyes and his vehicle was described as a white, 1990s 4-door sedan. Anyone with information about the kidnapping or the suspect can call Detective McCarthy at (661) 799-5149. CBS 2

Sirhan Sirhan, Convicted Of Robert F. Kennedy Assassination, Seeks Parole With No Opposition From Prosecutors
Sirhan B. Sirhan, convicted of the 1968 assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, will face a California parole board for the 16th time Friday in a prison outside San Diego. But unlike the first 15 times, no prosecutor will stand to oppose the release of Sirhan, who is now 77. Sirhan was arrested at the scene of Kennedy's shooting in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the slaying of a U.S. senator who appeared headed for the Democratic presidential nomination. The assassination, along with that of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. two months earlier, created a turning point in American history with the sudden elimination of the charismatic leaders of the American civil rights movement and the Democratic Party respectively. When California abolished the death penalty, Sirhan's sentence was reduced to life with the possibility of parole. And now Sirhan, who has been incarcerated for 53 years, may benefit from a new push among progressive prosecutors to seek the release, or not oppose the release, of convicts who have served decades behind bars, no longer pose a threat to society and will be costly to treat medically in their later years. Washington Post

California Judge Weighs New Trial For Scott Peterson In Death Of His Pregnant Wife
A California judge said Wednesday that she anticipates a two-week hearing early next year before she decides if Scott Peterson deserves a new trial in the 2002 death of his pregnant wife. That's more than a year after the California Supreme Court ordered Superior Court Judge Anne-Christine Massullo to consider if juror misconduct was so significant that it denied him a fair trial. Massullo is expected to hear testimony from juror Richelle Nice, who is at the center of the dispute and has denied that she was influenced by her own background of domestic abuse. Nice is identified in court papers as Juror 7. But she co-authored a book about the case with six other jurors. That hearing would get to “the meat and potatoes of what the juror's information is,” Deputy Stanislaus County District Attorney Dave Harris said. Laci Peterson, 27, was eight months pregnant with their unborn son, Connor, when she was killed. Massullo must decide if Nice committed “prejudicial misconduct” by failing to disclose that she had sought a restraining order in 2000 for fear that her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend could harm Nice's own unborn child. KTLA 5

California Looking To Pay Drug Addicts To Stay Sober
Frustrated by out-of-control increases in drug overdose deaths, California's leaders are trying something radical: They want the state to be the first to pay people to stay sober. The federal government has been doing it for years with military veterans and research shows it is one of the most effective ways to get people to stop using drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, stimulants for which there are no pharmaceutical treatments available. It works like this: People earn small incentives or payments for every negative drug test over a period of time. Most people who complete the treatment without any positive tests can earn a few hundred dollars. They usually get the money on a gift card. It's called “contingency management” and Gov. Gavin Newsom has asked the federal government for permission to use tax dollars to pay for it through Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled that covers nearly 14 million people in California. Meanwhile, a similar proposal is moving through California's Democratic-controlled Legislature. It's already passed the Senate with no opposition and is pending in the Assembly, where it has a Republican co-author. Associated Press

Public Safety News

Man Rescued After Spending Days In Bel Air Ravine
A homeless man was rescued from a ravine in Bel Air Wednesday after having spent several days in thick brush without food or water. A resident living near 2415 Nalin Drive, near Roscomare Road, reported to police at about 4:30 p.m. that they heard calls for help coming from the brush about 500 feet from their home, said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department. Los Angeles Police Department ground and air units searched the area for any sign of a person in distress, but could not find them. LAFD helicopters were called in to assist the search, Humphrey said. A paramedic was lowered into the brush to look for the source of the calls for help and found the man lying in the brush in a ravine after about 40 minutes of searching. The area the man was found in was so thick with brush that the paramedic would not have been able to find him if he was not moving, Humphrey said. The man had been in the area for several days, possibly up to a week, without food or water, according to the LAFD. He was so emaciated that he required support from paramedics to stand and be put on a stretcher to be airlifted to safety. CBS 2

Smoke From NorCal Wildfires Moves Toward L.A., Prompting Air Quality Advisory
Smoke from multiple Northern California wildfires is making its way south, creating potentially hazardous air quality for the Los Angeles area. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued an advisory through Thursday morning for large portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. “Wildfires in northern and central California are producing heavy smoke that is being transported into the South Coast Air Basin and the Coachella Valley,” the agency said, noting that effects will be strongest in mountain areas, the Inland Empire and the Coachella Valley. For weeks, the fires have caused hazardous air quality and miserable conditions for thousands of nearby residents. Now, winds are blowing the smoke southward. KTLA 5

Local Government News

L.A. City Council Seeks To Crack Down On Illegal Airbnb Rentals
Four Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion on Wednesday to bolster prohibition on unpermitted and non-compliant Airbnbs and other short-term rental operations. Studies have found that about a third of the L.A.'s short-term rental listings have been illegal since a 2018 home-share ordinance went into effect. The motion was introduced by councilmembers Nithya Raman, Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin and Paul Koretz. It was seconded by Councilmember Kevin de León. "We are in the midst of an unprecedented affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles—one that has only been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic," Raman said in a statement. "It is criminal for us to continue allowing rent-stabilized units to be removed from the city's housing stock and to let tenants be subjected to displacement pressures because we are unable to enforce the ordinance. We must do better." Should the motion pass, the L.A. Department of City Planning must report back to the council within 90 days on recommendations for how the city can address non-compliant hosts who rent out properties illegally, including necessary modifications of enforcement and fining mechanisms. KNX News Radio

LA City Council Passes Motion To Combat Increase In Illegal Dumping
The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to reconvene a previously formed interdepartmental illegal dumping working group following a report that found illegal dumping of trash and hazardous items in the city's public areas increased 450% between 2016 and 2020. According to Controller Ron Galperin's report, which was released on March 24, the L.A. Bureau of Sanitation is struggling to keep up with the increasing amount of waste dumped on L.A. sidewalks, streets and alleys, and the waste is making it unsafe for all Angelenos. The amount of solid waste picked up by sanitation crews increased from 9,200 tons in 2016 to 14,500 tons in the first eight months of 2020, according to the report. According to the report, the Bureau of Sanitation's resources are spread too thin because it is charged with handling illegal dumping and cleanups of homeless encampments, and as a result, the average time it took sanitation crews to respond to illegal dumping requests in 2020 was five days.

Los Angeles To Explore Bringing Skid Row Clean Team Citywide
Two Los Angeles City Council members Wednesday introduced a motion to explore expanding citywide the Skid Row Clean Team which works to prevent trash and debris buildup in the area. The team is managed by the homeless outreach organization Urban Alchemy and operates on an annual basis. The current contract runs through the next year with two one-year extension options. If passed, the motion -- which was introduced by Councilmen Kevin de Leon and Mitch O'Farrell -- would request a report from the Board of Public Works on the effectiveness the program has reducing litter and bulky item trash and on the feasibility of expanding it citywide. 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: