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

October 1, 2021
Law Enforcement News

Jury Recommends Death Sentence For Man Who Killed San Diego Police Officer In 2016
A jury recommended Thursday that a man who opened fire on San Diego police officers in 2016, killing one and wounding the other in the throat, be sentenced to death for his crimes. The same Superior Court jury convicted Jesse Michael Gomez, 57, on charges of first-degree murder and a special-circumstance allegation of killing a police officer, which made Gomez eligible for the death penalty. The widow of slain officer Jonathan “J.D.” De Guzman gasped in the courtroom as the verdict was read. She cried as she leaned over and hugged someone seated next to her in the front row of the gallery. Gomez didn't appear to react when Judge Frederick Link read aloud the jury's recommendation. When it is time for sentencing, Link will decide whether to accept the jury's recommendation or go against it by choosing a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole. It is highly unusual, but not unheard of, for a judge to go against a jury's recommendation in a capital case. After the hearing, one of Gomez's supporters cried and hugged one of his attorneys. San Diego Union Tribune

Suspect Followed Teen Girl On Train, Bus In LA Before Raping Her, Police Say
Police are looking for a man they say followed a 16-year-old girl as she traveled on a train and bus, then raped her in a Los Angeles-area parking lot. The attack happened Sunday around 9 p.m., police say. Investigators say the suspect and teen were riding the same Metro train from a station in downtown Long Beach, but were not together. The train was headed northbound to the Los Angeles area. The teen then got off the train and took a bus. The suspect, described as a man around 35 years old, followed her. She got off the bus near Vernon Avenue and San Pedro Street. He again followed her. Police say that's when the suspect went up to the teen from behind and grabbed her by the neck. "The suspect forced the victim to a parking lot of an apartment building where he threatened to kill her and then raped her," the LAPD said. Police say the suspect is a Black male believed to be around 35 years old, standing about 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds with a muscular build. He has black dreadlocks and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a white shirt with black pants. Anyone with information is asked to call the LAPD Juvenile Division at 213-486-0570. ABC 7

Amie Harwick Case: Ex-Boyfriend Ordered To Stand Trial In Hollywood Sex Therapist's Killing
An ex-boyfriend of a marriage and sex therapist was ordered Thursday to stand trial for allegedly throwing the woman to her death from the third-floor balcony of her Hollywood Hills home last year. After a hearing that stretched over portions of more than a week, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor said the prosecution had presented "more than enough evidence" against Gareth Pursehouse in connection with the Feb. 15, 2020, death of 38-year-old Amie Harwick. Pursehouse, now 43, is charged with one count each of murder and first- degree residential burglary, along with the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait. Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila told the judge that the events that culminated with Harwick's death began with an exchange about a month earlier between the victim and Pursehouse outside the XBiz adult entertainment awards ceremony at the JW Marriott in which he allegedly told her that she had ruined his life and called her a "bitch." The prosecutor contended that the defendant -- whom he called "obsessed" with Harwick -- broke into her home and waited about four hours for her to return in an attempt to "catch her by surprise" while armed with a syringe containing a "lethal" dose of nicotine. FOX 11

Man Charged With Raping Minor Allegedly Used Social Media To Target Kids; Additional Victims Sought
A man who allegedly used social media to target kids online has been charged with raping a minor and police in Los Angeles believe there may be additional victims. Oliverio Suarez-Aboytes, 39, was arrested on Sept. 23 by Devonshire-area detectives for raping a minor in Lancaster, the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement released Thursday. On Sept. 27, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office filed five additional charges against Suarez-Aboytes, including two counts of meeting a minor for lewd purposes, two counts of lewd acts with a minor and one count of showing pornographic material to a minor. Detectives said that Suarez-Aboytes used the app Snapchat to target minor victims. Anyone with information on the case was asked to contact LAPD's Devonshire-area sexual assault investigators, Detectives Stefani Valdes and Ruben Arellano at 818-832-0609.   FOX 11

Police Seek Information On Suspects In Playa Vista Shooting
Police released video of a shooting in Playa Vista and were seeking information on two suspects. The shooting occurred on Sept. 21 about 10:25 a.m., when the victim parked his car on Shared Drive east of South Center Campus Drive, according to the LAPD. A man and a woman parked their car a few feet away, and the man got out and approached the still-seated victim. An “apparent confrontation ensued'' between the two men before the woman exited the car with a bag and handed it to the male suspect, police said. The man retrieved a semi-automatic handgun from the bag and fire multiple rounds at the victim. The victim put his car into reverse and, while attempting to flee, crashed into a wall before speeding away from the area. The suspects reentered their car and chased after the victim, who circled back to the area of the shooting and was stopped by patrol officers. He was not injured in the shooting or the crash, police said. The suspects fled the area before police could search for them. The shooter was described as a 25- to 30-year-old Black man, about 5 feet, 11 inches tall and between 180 and 190 pounds. He was last seen wearing a white or gray T-shirt, black track pants and black shoes. WestSide Current

Surveillance Video Released Amid Search For Hit-and-Run Driver Who Fatally Struck 62-Year-Old Man In South L.A.
Police on Thursday released surveillance video of a deadly hit-and-run crash in South Los Angeles amid their ongoing search for the driver. The crash occurred the night of Sept. 17 near the intersection of Central Avenue and 112th Street. Demetrio Bravopaz, 62, was crossing the street when he was fatally struck by a speeding driver, who did not stop to render aid, Los Angeles Police Department officials said during a news conference Thursday. Surveillance video of the crash shows the victim was thrown from the impact and was on the ground for several seconds while other vehicles passed. He was later struck by another car, the video showed. Police said the initial driver stopped shortly after the crash and is seen in another video opening the door and on the phone. Minutes later, the driver leaves the area altogether. Police believe the vehicle involved was a black four-door Mercedes-Benz C or E-Class that has extensive damage to the front, driver's side windshield. Police also announced a $50,000 reward for information leading to the identity, arrest and conviction of the driver involved. KTLA 5

Newsom signs package of bills aimed at police reform
During an appearance at Rowley Gym in Gardena, Gov. Gavin Newsom Thursday signed a package of bills into law aimed at cracking down on misconduct by law enforcement officers while also setting standards and restrictions on certain uses of force. Most notably among the new laws was Senate Bill 2, which creates a process for decertifying law enforcement officers who are found to have engaged in misconduct -- preventing culpable officers from simply moving to a different law enforcement agency. SB2 was strongly opposed by some law enforcement groups. After Newsom signed the measure, the Los Angeles Police Protective League -- the union representing Los Angeles Police Department officers -- and the San Francisco and San Jose Police Officers Associations issued a joint statement saying the original version of the legislation would have allowed the decertification of officers for issues such as "traffic tickets, unfounded complaints and unsubstantiated allegations. The biased panel established in his bill has zero authority to decertify an officer," according to the law enforcement unions. "They can recommend it to the POST commission, but they can't do it. The POST commission must vote by a two-thirds margin to decertify a peace officer after a hearing that accords officers their due process rights." The unions urged the Legislature to now "focus on reducing the rise in shootings, homicides, and robberies each of our cities are grappling with." Fox 11

Transient Pleads No Contest To Attacking Man In Venice
A transient pleaded no contest Thursday in connection with an apparently random attack in which a man was knocked unconscious in Venice. Macio Martinez Harger, 45, was immediately sentenced to 270 days in jail and two years probation following his plea to felony battery with serious bodily injury, according to Greg Risling of the District Attorney's Office. Harger allegedly approached the man about 12:40 p.m. June 6 in the 500 block of Ocean Front Walk and punched him in his face, according to a Los Angeles Police Department statement. The man lost consciousness after he was struck, and Harger fled the scene, police said. Paramedics took the man to a hospital, where he was treated for “serious injuries.” Harger, who was living in a homeless encampment nearby, was arrested two days later by officers from the LAPD's Pacific Division. He has remained behind bars since then, according to jail records.

North Hollywood Motorhome Bust Leads To ‘Ghost Gun': LAPD
Police recovered an unregistered and untraceable gun when searching a stolen motorhome in North Hollywood Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Police were responding to reports of illegal parking near Cahuenga Boulevard and Califa Street about 8 a.m. when they saw a motorhome without license plates and with a covered vehicle identification number, police said. Once officers got the VIN from the motorhome's occupant, 31-year-old Ryan Andres, they discovered the vehicle had been reported stolen, police said. Police detained Andres, who was on probation, and searched the motorhome, where they said they found narcotics and a “ghost gun” — a weapon that can be created at home from easy-to-assemble parts that do not carry serial numbers like most guns, according to the gun control advocacy group Brady. Andres was arrested, and on Thursday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged him with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of an assault weapon, police said. KTLA 5

Illegal Marijuana Grow Operation Found To Be Supplying Unlicensed Dispensaries In Mid-Wilshire Area
An illegal marijuana grow operation that had been supplying unlicensed dispensaries in the Mid-Wilshire area and other Los Angeles areas was busted this week following months of investigation. Two men were swept up in the raids of four locations in the Los Angeles area – 35-year-old Alonso Armendariz was arrested on suspicion of maintaining an illegal narcotics location, and 54-year-old Lazaro Garcia was taken in on weapons violations and narcotics offenses. The LAPD says its Wilshire Narcotics Enforcement Detail served search warrants on the illegal cannabis grow location, which was within the Mid-City area, and at homes associated with the owners in Torrance and San Pedro. The searches recovered a large growing operation of cannabis plants, two handguns, and “a substantial amount of U.S. Currency directly connected to illegal drug trade.” The two-month investigation determined the operation was supplying illegal dispensaries in the Mid-City area and beyond, police said. Armendariz was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 25, 2022. Garcia, who was released Wednesday after posting $35,000 bail, has a court date set for Jan. 26, 2022. CBS 2

$10M Cash, 500K Marijuana Plants Seized In Bay Area's Largest-Ever Bust
Alameda County sheriff's detectives say an 18-month investigation has resulted in the seizure of upwards of $10 million in cash, up to 500,000 marijuana plants, 6 tons of processed marijuana valued at $42 million, and a cache of weapons. The bust marks the largest-ever illegal growing operation in the Bay Area, and among the largest ever in the state, Sgt. Ray Kelly said. The cultivation operation was sophisticated, and the sheriff's office says the marijuana quality was the best they've ever seen. The operation involved over a dozen locations scattered throughout the East Bay, Kelly said. Specifically, these included Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward and Castro Valley. In all, Kelly says a total of 500,000 square feet of commercial real estate was dedicated to the operation. In the Bay Area, the cost of renting this much commercial space is several million dollars per month. The average size of each location was around 70,000 square feet, but some were smaller, such as 10,000 square feet, Kelly said. Inside, the operation was streamlined and the equipment was plentiful. FOX 11

California Trucker Gets 3 1/2-Year Prison Sentence For Cross-Country Fentanyl Shipment
A California trucker who was promised $6,000 to transport about $14 million worth of fentanyl across the country to Massachusetts has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison. Nelson A. Garcia Martinez, 40, apologized to a judge at Wednesday's sentencing in federal court in Worcester, saying he did not know that the 15 kilograms (33 pounds) he was transporting were fentanyl, The Telegram & Gazette reported. Garcia Martinez pleaded guilty to drug charges in April. He was arrested in November 2018 at a Sturbridge truck stop. Authorities had been tracking him after his cellphone number was found during a drug bust in Methuen the previous month. His attorney, Noah J. Kilroy, said his client is a father of five with no prior criminal history who was on his first run as a drug mule. Garcia Martinez, a native of El Salvador who is in the U.S. illegally, also faces deportation upon completion of his sentence. Kilroy asked for a three-year sentence. Prosecutors asked for nearly four years. KTLA 5

California Man Gets Life Sentence For Fatal Synagogue Attack
A 22-year-old white supremacist was denied a chance to address a courtroom before a judge sentenced him Thursday to life in prison without the possibility of parole for bursting into a Southern California synagogue on the last day of Passover in 2019 with a semiautomatic rifle, killing one worshipper and wounding three others. An agreement with prosecutors that spared John T. Earnest the death penalty left little suspense about the outcome, but the hearing provided 13 victims and families a chance to address the killer and gave a sense of finality to a case illustrating how online hate speech can lead to extremist violence. Many gave heart-wrenching accounts of how their lives were upended and how determined they were to persevere despite such devastating loss. Earnest's attorney, John O'Connell, said his client wanted to make a statement but San Diego Superior Court Judge Peter Deddeh refused, saying he did not want to create “a political forum” for white supremacist views. Earnest has not spoken publicly or disavowed earlier statements. “I'm not going to let him use this as a platform to add to his celebrity,” the judge said, pointing to comments that Earnest made to police when he was arrested, hand gestures to the audience during a previous hearing and his probation report. Los Angeles Daily News

'This Seat Is Taken': Subway Restaurant Makes Special Tribute To Slain LEO
A Florida community is honoring Deputy Joshua Moyers, who was fatally shot Sunday during a traffic stop. Notably, Moyers' favorite sandwich shop set up a special tribute, reported News 4. At a Subway just off the highway, a booth sits empty with a sign reading, “Sorry, this seat is taken.” A photo of Moyers sits on the table. According to News 4, Moyers frequented the sandwich shop with his fiancée and other deputies, always sitting in the same booth. “The room would light up when he would walk in,” said Subway employee Caitlyn Phelan. Keeping his seat free is her way of sharing her appreciation. “To his parents, thank you,” she said. “You raised a very well young man and I know for a fact he made his fiancée very happy because I actually have seen them grow as a couple since I've been here. It just breaks my heart.” The murder suspect, 25-year-old Patrick McDowell, was caught after a multi-day manhunt.  PoliceOne

The Up-Beat: Top Police Heroes Of September
From small gestures of kindness to incredible acts of heroism, police officers help their communities every day. Our monthly news roundup, The Up-Beat, aims to bring greater attention to these inspiring stories. 1. Hero Of The Month: Officer Anthony Camerada - Each year, thousands of runners take part in the Tunnels To Towers 5k charity run to honor firefighter Stephen Siller's final steps to the Twin Towers on 9/11. This year, Staten Island MTA police officer Anthony Camerada joined the run — garbed in full uniform. "Stephen Siller's story has always been inspiring to me, and has weighed heavily on my decision of becoming a first-responder," said Camerada. "Not only did I want to represent the MTAPD, but I wanted to honor the sacrifice of Stephen Siller and all the other heroes of September 11th." The starting line was filled with other first responders, some of whom followed suit by wearing their own uniforms. Great work, officer! 2. Instead Of Writing A Ticket, These Georgia Cops Bought New Car Seats - Upon seeing that the driver's children were in ill-fitting car seats, two deputies decided that a citation wasn't the way to go. 3. An Elderly Man Couldn't Pay His Tab, So A Police Officer Did - While struggling with his bank account, a flustered senior citizen called for help. Officer Anthony Glass went above and beyond to fix the situation. PoliceOne

Public Safety News

Minority Of Sanitation Workers Report Being Vaccinated, Worrying Homeless Advocates
In March 2020, Los Angeles sanitation crews mostly stopped doing their most extensive cleanups at homeless encampments, hoping to reduce the chances of spreading COVID-19 on the streets. More than a year later, the number of residents becoming sick from the virus has dropped and the cleanups have resumed. But advocates for homeless people warn that the risks from COVID-19 are still present, and they fear the renewed cleanups will spread the virus among the unhoused. Adding to the fear is the fact that many sanitation workers — possibly even most — are still not vaccinated. "Resuming these activities now will undoubtedly bring unvaccinated city workers in contact with people experiencing homelessness, which could have devastating consequences for unhoused individuals, city employees, and the entire Los Angeles community," wrote Services Not Sweeps, a coalition of homeless activists, in a letter to City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas last month. The city never stopped doing its smaller, less invasive Cleaning and Rapid Engagement cleanups, known as CARE, which typically allow tents to remain on the sidewalk. The newly restarted, more comprehensive CARE+ operations require that everything be moved — tents, mattresses, bicycle parts, and so on — so sidewalks can be power-washed with a combination of water and bleach. Los Angeles Times

Crews Extinguish Large Structure Fire In El Sereno; 1 Firefighter Injured
Crews put out a large structure fire Thursday at an El Sereno commercial building that left one firefighter injured. The blaze at the 200-foot by 200-foot one-story commercial building at 4900 E. Alhambra Ave. started around 5:20 p.m. with fire going through the roof, the Los Angeles Fire Department said. There were 146 LAFD personnel assigned to fight the fire, dubbed the Alhambra Fire, as it escalated to major emergency status. About 90 minutes into the firefight, LAFD crews joined by L.A. County Fire Department personnel were able to hold the flames and transition toward an offensive fire attack. Two hours in, the fire was fully extinguished, LAFD said. Sky5 was above the scene around 5:40 p.m. as black smoke could be seen billowing into the air and intense orange flames overtook the warehouse. At least seven fire trucks could be seen surrounding the structure, which served as a roller derby auditorium in recent years, dowsing water over the flames. KTLA 5

Three Firefighters Hurt Battling Large Fire At Commercial Property In Carson
Three firefighters were injured battling flames from a large commercial building fire in Carson on Thursday. Two of the firefighters were treated at the scene. The other was hospitalized. Smoke from the fire could be seen for miles around southern Los Angeles County as it burned Thursday afternoon at a sprawling commercial property in Carson. The fire began in a wooden pallet yard in the 16000 block of South Avalon Boulevard in the community about 15 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Flames raced between warehouse-type buildings and appeared to have damaged some structures at the corner of East Alondra Boulevard and South Avalon Boulevard. Businesses in the area were evacuated. Several truck trailers or shipping containers near a loading dock also appeared to have burned. Firefighters said some of the containers and crates on the property might contain rubbing alcohol. Nearby streets were closed. NBC 4

As Virus Cases Drop, When Might The Mandatory Mask Order In L.A. County End?
Los Angeles County has made tremendous progress in its battle against the coronavirus, but one of the tools officials credit most with helping turn the tide — a countywide indoor mask mandate — doesn't seem likely to go away anytime soon. While coronavirus case rates have dropped significantly in recent weeks in L.A. County, health officials say transmission is still too elevated to lift the indoor mask order. L.A. County is considered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have substantial community transmission, the second-worst category on the agency's four-tier scale, noted by the orange color on the agency's website. The worst level is high community transmission, colored in red. The CDC recommends that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public settings in areas of substantial or high transmission. As of Thursday afternoon, the county was reporting 98.88 weekly coronavirus cases for every 100,000 residents, CDC data show. Los Angeles Times

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: