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 18, 2022
Law Enforcement News

California Cop Killer Gets Minimum Sentence, Prompting DA To Rebuke Judge
The man who fatally shot El Dorado County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Ishmael in October 2019 has been sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for second-degree murder, California's statutory minimum for the crime. Juan Carlos Vasquez-Orozco, 22, was convicted last month by a jury for killing Ishmael as the deputy responded to a midnight 911 call at an illegal marijuana grow site near Somerset. Christopher Garry Ross, the property owner who called 911 and told authorities he saw men he believed to be stealing his plants from his grow, actually knew Vasquez and another man were tending to the property. Vasquez opened fire, hitting Ishmael four times and wounding another deputy, Josh Tasabia. In a scathing three-page statement Monday, El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson blasted Friday's sentencing decision by Sacramento Superior Court Judge Sharon Lueras and blamed recent legislation passed by California lawmakers he said has “eroded” accountability for violent crimes. “It no longer matters whether you use a gun or how many people you harm or how many prior violent felonies you have committed,” Pierson, who had sought a maximum sentence of 40 years to life, said in his statement. Sacramento Bee

Video: Biden Awards 9 Police Officers With Medals Of Valor
President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Valor to 15 public safety officers, including nine police officers and six firefighters, on Monday. Two of the police honorees died in the line of duty. At a ceremony held in the White House's East Room, the president recognized the first responders for their acts of bravery in the line of duty. "We can never fully thank you for your service or for your sacrifice, but today is an important day for the nation to give thanks for all that you do for everyone," Biden said before giving the highest award a president can bestow on a public safety officer. "I know you don't do this work for recognition, but you reflect the best part of who we are as Americans. These medals reflect the profound gratitude of our nation." The medal ceremony recognized bravery at incidents across two awards cycles and was the first such ceremony since the start of the pandemic.  PoliceOne

LAPD Responds To 2 Group Fights In Venice Tuesday
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a call for a large group fight on or near the Venice Pier Tuesday. The call came in around 5:50 p.m. Police closed off the Pier while they investigate. No further details are available at this time. Police were also called to a fight involving three suspects at the Westminster Dog Park. That call came in around 5:09 p.m. for an assault with a deadly weapon. Police say one person was taken into custody. One suspect remains at large.  WestSide Current

Gangsta Rap Pioneer Snoop Dogg Endorses Rick Caruso For L.A. Mayor
Rick Caruso, the billionaire developer and L.A. mayoral candidate, picked up an unexpected supporter on Tuesday — the rapper Snoop Dogg. Caruso, a former Republican (now a registered Democrat) best known locally for building the Grove and Americana at Brand shopping centers, locked down the Long Beach-raised rapper's endorsement in a recorded Zoom call, first reported by Fox L.A.'s Elex Michaelson. A representative for Caruso's campaign confirmed the endorsement. “You got my support,” Snoop Dogg said in the call. “We're a part of whatever you're a part of, as far as bringing love to the community and keeping people there that were a part of the community.” A representative for Snoop Dogg could not be reached for comment. Caruso currently is running neck-and-neck with Rep. Karen Bass for the lead in the L.A. mayoral race. The race has dwindled down to three remaining major candidates, including City Councilmember Kevin de León, after Councilmember Joe Buscaino and City Attorney Mike Feuer dropped out in recent days. Los Angeles Times

Officers Arrest Individual After Pursuit Of Possibly Stolen Vehicle
Officers were tracking a suspect in a possibly stolen white Chevy SUV in the Burbank area. The driver stopped underneath a bridge after the Los Angeles Police Department, backed off the pursuit and began to track the vehicle. A person was detained shortly after the suspect parked underneath the bridge. It is not immediately known if the man detained was the driver of the possible stolen vehicle.  CBS 2

Man In Wheelchair Shot In Front Of South L.A. McDonald's; 2 Women Sought
Police are searching for two women involved in the shooting of a man in a wheelchair outside of a South Los Angeles McDonald's Tuesday night. The incident took place around 11:30 p.m. near the intersection of South Western Avenue and West Century Boulevard in the Gramercy Park neighborhood, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson confirmed. Investigators say a 75-year-old Hispanic man was sitting in a wheelchair front of the McDonald's when two women pulled up in a vehicle and fired at him. The women fled the scene following the shooting and are being sought by police. No further details about the suspects were available. The unidentified victim was transported to a local hospital in critical condition, police said. Investigators believe the victim may have been experiencing homelessness. The shooting did not appear to be gang related, according to the spokesperson. KTLA 5

Exclusive: Security Video Shows Suspected Shoplifter Hit 61-Year-Old Store Owner In South LA
Security video captured a suspected shoplifter hit a South Los Angeles shop owner after she confronted him, an attack that sent her to the hospital. "I told him can you pay. And He was talking very close to my face. he looks like he's going to go inside the store, but he's not. He pushed me," said Mrs. Chang, the 61-year-old owner of G&J Market. Chang said the man had been flirting with a woman in front of him and actually paid for her item, but then tried to walk out of the store with some groceries. Cameras inside the store capture a clear picture of the man Chang said assaulted her on May 1. After the incident, the suspect then casually got in his car and drove away. The shop owner called the police and went to the hospital for bruises to her head, back and leg. Friends setup a fundraising page to help with her ongoing medical costs. "I hurt too much. Even still, I'm hurting on my back, in the leg too," Chang said. She and her husband have owned the market for 11 years and said this is not the first time they've been attacked by a customer.  CBS 2

Westwood Man Sentenced To 17 Years For Supplying Fentanyl-Laced Pills To Mac Miller
A Westwood man was sentenced Monday to more than 17 years behind bars for his role in supplying the fentanyl-laced pills that led to rapper Mac Miller's fatal overdose four years ago. Stephen Walter was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Walter, 49, pleaded guilty last year to a federal count of distribution of fentanyl. In September 2018, Miller died of a drug overdose -- namely, a fatal mixture of fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol. Just a few days before the 26-year-old rapper's death, Walter supplied the fentanyl that ultimately killed him. Two others were also charged. Ryan Reavis, 39, pleaded guilty to the distribution charge and was sentenced in April to almost 11 years behind bars. The case against Cameron Pettit, 30, of West Hollywood, is pending. The pills traveled from Walter to Reavis, who supplied the counterfeit oxycodone pills to the third defendant, according to papers filed in Los Angeles federal court. Reavis admitted knowing that the pills contained fentanyl or some other controlled substance. Shortly after Reavis handed over the pills, Pettit allegedly supplied them to Malcolm McCormick -- who recorded and performed under the name Mac Miller -- two days before the rapper suffered a fatal overdose in Studio City on Sept. 7, 2018, federal prosecutors said.  NBC 4

Doctor Accused Of Selling Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards In Tujunga
An osteopathic doctor with a practice in Montrose was charged Tuesday with allegedly giving out fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to his patients as well as injecting some of them with blood plasma he received from donors. Donald Plance, 68, of the Tujunga-Sunland area, is set to be arraigned on 10 felony counts of making a forged government seal and 10 misdemeanor counts of making a false medical record, along with one misdemeanor count each of making a drug without a license and possession of a contaminated medical device, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. "It is disturbing that people, especially medical professionals, continue to use the pandemic as an opportunity to deceive the public," said District Attorney George Gascón in the statement. "Fake COVID vaccination cards are illegal and endanger our collective health and well-being. We will continue to work with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to protect consumers and stop medical fraud." CBS 2

LASD Marijuana Grow Operation Results In Over 100 Arrests In Antelope Valley
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department announced Tuesday a joint operation to take down multiple illegal marijuana grows in the Antelope Valley resulted in more than 100 arrests and the destruction of several thousands of pounds of marijuana products. The Marijuana Eradication Team — which consists of the LASD, the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife — served 116 marijuana cultivation-related search warrants in the Antelope Valley in the first four months in 2022, according to the sheriff's department. The search warrants resulted in 100 misdemeanor arrests and seven felony arrests. Authorities also seized 101,090 marijuana plants and 53 firearms, and 14,980 pounds of harvested marijuana was destroyed. “Continuing in the spring of 2022 … narcotics investigators conducted aerial reconnaissance with the California National Guard Counterdrug Task Force,” according to the LASD “They identified 350 outdoor cultivation sites in the Antelope Valley, down from over 750 locations in 2021. This reduction in cultivation sites is directly related to increased enforcement efforts in the Antelope Valley.”

Woman Serving Life In California Prison Led $2-Million Unemployment Fraud Scheme, Prosecutors Say
Federal authorities charged 13 people and arrested five in connection with a California unemployment insurance benefits scheme they believe netted at least $2 million under the direction of a state prison inmate. Natalie Le DeMola, a 37-year-old serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, was named as the ringleader, the U.S. attorney's office for the Central District of California said Tuesday. Carleisha Neosha Plummer, a 32-year-old Los Angeles resident and close associate of DeMola, was also named by authorities. A 39-count indictment charges DeMola, Plummer and 11 others with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, prosecutors said. The conspiracy count alleges 150 overt acts, including illegally obtaining personal identifying information, some of which prosecutors allege was provided by an unnamed state prison employee. The indictment also names various defendants in 31 bank fraud counts and seven aggravated identity theft counts. According to authorities, the fraud ring used stolen identities, including some belonging to state prison inmates, to collect unemployment benefits, most of which were pandemic-related relief, during the second half of 2020. Los Angeles Times

Feds Find Giant Drug Smuggling Tunnel Linking Tijuana, San Diego
U.S. authorities on Monday announced the discovery of a major drug smuggling tunnel — running about the length of a six football fields — from Mexico to a warehouse in an industrial area in the U.S. The secret passage from Tijuana to San Diego featured rail and ventilation systems, electricity and reinforced walls, authorities said. It was discovered near San Diego's Otay Mesa border crossing in an area where more than a dozen other sophisticated tunnels have been found in the last two decades. U.S. authorities said it was unknown how long the tunnel had been operating and what amount of drugs, if any, got through undetected. They seized 1,762 pounds (799 kg) of cocaine, 165 pounds (75 kg) of meth and 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) of heroin in connection with the investigation. Six people, ages 31 to 55, were charged with conspiring to distribute cocaine. All are Southern California residents. The tunnel is in one of the most fortified stretches of the border, illustrating the limitations of border walls. While considered effective against small, crudely built tunnels called “gopher holes,” walls are no match for more sophisticated passages that run deeper underground. Associated Press

Kentucky Deputy Shot, Killed Outside Detention Center
An investigation is underway after a Kentucky deputy was fatally shot outside the Marshall County Detention Center on Monday, WKDZ Radio reported. A suspect was also killed. Deputy Jody Cash of the Calloway County Sheriff's Office was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the report. Few details about the incident were initially released. The Kentucky State Police is investigating. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear expressed his condolences in a statement. “This deputy has paid the ultimate sacrifice today while serving our commonwealth. Let us honor the life, bravery and service of this deputy,” Andy Beshear wrote on Twitter. “I ask Kentuckians to join us in holding the family and loved ones of the Calloway County Deputy in their prayers.” Cash is a 23-year law enforcement veteran, the report said.  PoliceOne

‘Times Have Changed': Amid Pandemic And Crime, First-Time Gun Buyers Are Often Women, People Of Color
Concerns about violence, crime and the pandemic have prompted Americans, especially people of color and women, to arm themselves with firearms for the first time, according to Redstone Firearms owner Jonathan Solomon. “In the Black community, we've been so anti-gun that now, the tide has changed tremendously. Those who were historically anti-gun are now asking the question, ‘How do I get a firearm?'” the Burbank business owner said. Solomon said that while a majority of gun owners are still primarily white and male, the gun culture has diversified and no longer caters to just recreational shooters or hunters. Gun purchases soared during the pandemic, and Black Americans and women continue to drive those record-breaking numbers with the boost in gun sales nationally, especially among first-time firearms owners. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, women accounted for 40% of all gun purchases in 2020, and that year, purchases by African Americans increased by 56% compared to the year before. An NSSF survey also found jumps for Asian Americans, who bought 42% more guns in the first half of 2020 than they did in the same time period the year before, and for Hispanics, the increase was 49%. KTLA 5

Public Safety News

Brush Fire Breaks Out Near Griffith Observatory, Person Of Interest In Custody
Crews have contained a brush fire that was previously classified as a "major emergency" burning near the iconic Griffith Observatory Tuesday. According to the LAFD, the fire burned about 6 acres and was reported in the area of 2675 N. Nottingham Avenue, south of the observatory near the Boy Scout Trail. A total of 92 firefighters responded to the scene and a person of interest was taken into police custody. Officials said all active flames have been eliminated and forward progress has been stopped after one hour and twelve minutes. There are no reported injuries. The fire was being fueled by the terrain, drought, and light-to-medium winds, officials said. It has been about three weeks since Los Angeles has seen any measurable  rain. It is unknown what the person of interest's role was in Tuesday's fire investigation. FOX 11

LA Firefighter Badly Wounded In 2020 Fire, Explosion Turns To Fishing During Recovery
A Los Angeles firefighter who was badly burned in a massive downtown L.A. explosion and fire two years ago is continuing his road to recovery. On May 16, 2020, explosions rocked a burning downtown vape shop. L.A. Fire Capt. Victor Aguirre rushed in to save lives and was the last firefighter to escape down a ladder when it was engulfed by a fireball. "I thought, this is how I die," Aguirre said. In total, 11 firefighters were hurt in the explosion. Aguirre's burns were catastrophic. "I went from fourth-degree burns, which is your bones being burned, to second- and first-degree burns throughout my body," Aguirre said. "I had...metal on the back of my head. I've had 31 surgeries." Aguirre's continuing physical recovery has been harrowing and inspirational. He returned first to his family, and then to work at the LAFD emergency dispatch center. Now he's focused on another type of healing, through fishing. Deep-sea fishing experts designed a one-of-a kind fishing reel just for Aguirre's healing hands. CBS 2

Search And Rescue Crews Rescue Lost Hikers Near Tarzana
Two hikers who got lost in a canyon near Tarzana Tuesday night were rescued by search and rescue crews. The two hikers, who were identified as two women, were reported being lost around 9:20 p.m., according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Two Los Angeles Fire Department helicopters and one LAPD helicopter responded to the scene. The two hikers were rescued by crews aboard an LAFD helicopter and taken to a safe landing zone where they unloaded and were evaluated by paramedics. No details have been provided about any injuries the two hikers may have suffered, but video from Sky5 showed both women walking under their own power with no obvious signs of injury.  KTLA 5

L.A. Coronavirus Hospitalizations Start Rising Again; Officials Urge Mask-Wearing
Los Angeles County's coronavirus-positive hospitalizations are rising again, causing health officials to urge residents to put masks back on if they have stopped doing so. L.A. County already requires mask-wearing on public transit and at its airports, and Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer urged residents Monday to wear masks inside schools, stores and workplaces. “This would give us a chance at slowing down spread while we continue to increase the numbers of residents and workers up to date with their vaccinations, since vaccines give us the most protection from severe illness and death,” Ferrer said in a statement. Ferrer has strongly recommended indoor mask use ever since the L.A. County Department of Public Health ended its 7½-month universal mask order on March 4. But Ferrer's message seemed to take a more urgent tone Monday, with coronavirus-positive hospitalizations rising 29% in the last week, to 312 as of Sunday. The 29% week-over-week increase in coronavirus-positive hospitalizations was the highest weekly percentage increase in L.A. County since mid-January, after the Omicron surge peaked. Los Angeles Times

Local Government News

Mike Feuer Drops Out Of Los Angeles Mayor's Race
City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Tuesday he is dropping out of the Los Angeles mayor's race and has endorsed Rep. Karen Bass. Just five days ago, LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino dropped out of the race and announced his support for his former opponent, billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso. Angelenos have already been sent their ballots from the Los Angeles County Clerk, and voting ends for the election on June 7. The primary ballot -- sent out before both Buscaino and Feurer ended their campaigns -- includes Buscaino, Caruso, Bass, Feuer, Councilman Kevin de León, activist Gina Viola, real estate agent Mel Wilson, business executive Craig Greiwe, social justice advocate Alex Gruenenfelder Smith, lawyer Andrew Kim, entrepreneur Ramit Varma and business owner John "Jsamuel" Jackson.  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: