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Dec 2021
Newswatch December 21, 2021

Law Enforcement News

Juveniles Can Avoid Jail For Robbery, Burglary, Arson Under New Policies By DA Gascon
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón is expanding a program allowing juveniles to potentially avoid prosecution for a host of violent crimes, including robbery, burglary, arson, sexual battery and assault without the use of a firearm. Details of the Restorative Enhanced Diversion for Youth program are outlined in an internal memo from Chief Deputy District Attorney Sharon L. Woo to Juvenile Division prosecutors and obtained by the Southern California News Group. The so-called REDY program is an outgrowth of a pilot project unveiled by Gascón last month in conjunction with Centinela Youth Services and the Everychild Restorative Justice Center. “This program will help repair the immense harm that criminal behavior inflicts on our community by giving crime victims the opportunity to actively participate in the restorative justice process,” Gascón said in a statement. Before Gascón took office in December 2020, juveniles were placed in diversion programs based on the nature of their offenses, criminal history and overall attitude, Eric Siddall, vice president of the Los Angeles County Association of Deputy District Attorneys, said Monday. “Suitability is no longer the standard under Gascón’s approach. Rather there’s a blanket approach regardless of the crime,” Siddall said. “With Gascón’s policy, you can sexually batter someone and you may never see the inside of a courtroom. You can rob someone and may never be held accountable.”
Los Angeles Daily News

'The State Of LAPD Is Dire': Santa Monica City Council Member Speaks Out After Venice Apartment Robbed
A Santa Monica City Council Member is speaking out after one of his tenants was robbed. The robbery took place on Rose Avenue, Saturday, December 17 at 5:30 p.m. According to Phil Brock, the suspects, a male and female, climbed a wall shared with an apartment building next to his. Brock said the suspects appeared to have been on drugs. At first they tried to break into one apartment but the tenant wouldn't let them in. They then tried another apartment where they were successful in getting in and stealing the tennants car keys. The suspects were able to find the victims car parked on the street and took off with it. Brock said the first tenant called 911 and was giving police a play-by-play about what was taking place. However, Brock said even so–it took police almost two hours to respond to the call. "'The state of LAPD is dire," said Brock. "It should never have taken the police that long to get there." Brock said police had told them they had numerous calls that they were responding to at the same time. "This would not happen in Santa Monica," said Brock. The theft on Saturday was followed by another car theft on Rose Avenue and Main Street on Sunday. That suspect was detained–however, she was let out the next day on zero bail. Police say the same suspect had stolen a vehicle the week prior and was also let out on zero bail for that incident.
WestSide Current

Man Arrested In Deaths Of Model, Her Friend Charged In Series Of Sexual Assaults
A Beverly Hills man who was arrested in connection with last month's deaths of a model and her friend was charged Friday with sexually assaulting four women in alleged attacks dating back as far as 2010. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged David Brian Pearce with two counts each of forcible rape and one count each of rape of an unconscious or asleep person and sexual penetration by a foreign object stemming from alleged attacks in August 2010, February 2019, February 2020 and October 2020. Prosecutors have "asked for further investigation" into the Nov. 13 death of Christy Giles and the subsequent death Nov. 27 of Hilda Marcela Cabrales-Arzola, according to Greg Risling, a spokesman for the office. Giles, a 24-year-old model and aspiring actress, and her friend were last seen at an apartment in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood before their bodies were dumped outside Southern California Hospital in Culver City and Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Hospital. Giles was already dead when she was found outside the hospital on Nov. 13. Cabrales-Arzola, an architect, was in critical condition and her family took her off life support a day before her 27th birthday.
FOX 11

Homeless Woman Released 3 Times In 1 Week After Alleged Trespass, Car Theft In Venice
A 23-year-old homeless woman was arrested on Sunday after attempting to steal a car, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Police say this was her third arrest in a week's time, including another alleged car theft. Police say on December 14th; the suspect was arrested after attempting to break into a home near the beach in Venice. The suspect was arrested on trespass charges and brought to the Pacific Division Police Station. She was later let out on zero bond. Shortly after her release, the woman allegedly stole a vehicle near the police station. Police sent out information about the car theft–and the suspect was later arrested after a pursuit by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. The suspect was released, again, on zero bond the following day. On Sunday, police say the same suspect was arrested for allegedly stealing a Toyota Prius. She was arrested on Rose Avenue and Main Street. That incident ended in a stand-off with the police. According to arrest records, the woman was again let out on zero bond and her own recognizance. She is scheduled to appear in court on all charges in April.
WestSide Current

Police Pursuit Ends With Standoff In Boyle Heights
A man believed to be armed with a gun was arrested Monday morning after a pursuit with police ended in a brief standoff in Boyle Heights, authorities said, although no gun was found. Corey Mikel Smith, 44, of Houston was arrested on suspicion of evading a peace officer and causing great bodily injury or death, said Officer Mike Lopez, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. The offense can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony, according to the California Vehicle Code. Smith was being held in lieu of $125,000 bail, according to jail records. Officers began following the man’s vehicle about 2:30 a.m. after calls about disturbing the peace with a gun, police said. Smith eventually drove down a dead-end road at North State and New Jersey streets, near Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital, authorities said. After reaching the end of the street, he turned his gray SUV around and tried to drive out, but police blocked his path with their cruisers, according to video from OnScene.TV. Smith could be seen rolling a cigarette and smoking it during the standoff. He also wiped his eyes with his T-shirt as he visibly wept inside the car. Police ordered him to get out of the car, but he shook his head and at one point leaned the top half of his body out the driver’s window and tapped the top of his head with his hand. The standoff lasted for about three hours, according to authorities.
Los Angeles Times

Do You Recognize Them? LAPD Releases Video Of 7-Eleven Hold-Ups
Authorities released security video Monday they hope will generate tips from the public to help identify a man and two women suspected of committing a string of hold-ups at Los Angeles 7-Eleven stores over three consecutive evenings. The robberies occurred Nov. 27-29 at 7-Elevens in communities by the Los Angeles Police Department's Wilshire, Northeast, Foothill and Southwest divisions, according to the LAPD. The three entered the stores and two approached the counter while the third stood at the door as a lookout. One person remained in front of the counter while the other walked behind the counter with a gun which was pointed at the clerk while money demanding money, police said. They were described as being in their early 20s. Anyone with information about the robberies was asked to call detectives at 213-486-6840, or 877-LAPD-24-7. Anonymous tips can be left at Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).
NBC 4

Detectives Review Videos From L.A. Music Fest In Search For Drakeo The Ruler’s Killer
Authorities said Monday that detectives were reviewing videos and security footage of the Once Upon a Time in L.A. music festival as they try to identify the person who fatally stabbed Drakeo the Ruler backstage during the concert Saturday night. Authorities have released few details, but a person with direct knowledge of the incident told The Times that Drakeo the Ruler had been attacked by a group of people. Several videos have emerged showing the aftermath of the attack, though it’s unclear if any captured the stabbing itself. Sources have said there were many people around backstage when the attack occurred. California Highway Patrol investigators said the rapper, whose real name is Darrell Caldwell, was “severely injured by a suspect with an edged weapon” after a fight broke out. Any witnesses with information about the incident are asked to contact the CHP at (323) 259-3200.
KTLA 5
LAPD Investigating Break-In At Bel Air Mansion; 1 In Custody
Los Angeles police swarmed a mansion in Bel Air Monday night following a report of a break-in that occurred while someone was home. A suspect was arrested and a manhunt was underway at the property and in the neighborhood for a second person believed to be involved in the break-in, according to LAPD. It was not immediately known if anyone was injured during the burglary. It's also unclear what may have been taken from the home. Police were seen using flashlights to search for evidence at the residence located in the 900 block of Bel Air Road. The sprawling estate is more than 38,000-square feet and has 12 bedrooms, 21 bathrooms and an 85-foot infinity pool. Several years ago, the mansion was the most expensive home for sale in the U.S. It was initially listed on the market for $250 million and later sold for $94 million.
ABC 7

LAPD Investigating Vandalism At Venice Bank Of America
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating vandalism that happened at the Bank of America on Windward Avenue. Police say the suspect, a male, smashed the windows of the bank with a hammer along with several ATM machines sometime over the weekend. Officers say the suspect did not steal anything from the bank. The incident is under investigation. No further details are available at this time.
WestSide Current
1 Dead, 1 Wounded After Shooting In Willowbrook: Sheriff’s Department
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating after a man was fatally shot and another was wounded as they were working on a car in Willowbrook Saturday afternoon. The two men were shot at about 12:40 p.m. in the 2000 block of East 120th Street when another pair of men parked their vehicle, walked up to the two victims and opened fire before fleeing, the Sheriff’s Department announced in a release. One victim was shot in the torso and the other was struck in one of his legs, and they both were taken to a nearby hospital, where one of them was pronounced dead and the other is in stable condition, authorities added. The suspects were driving a burgundy vehicle, witnesses told the Sheriff’s Department. Anyone with information is asked to call the department’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
KTLA 5

LA Prosecutors: Man To Plead Guilty To Tom Brady Super Bowl Ring Fraud
A New Jersey man who posed as a former New England Patriots player in order to buy and sell Super Bowl rings that he claimed were gifts to Tom Brady’s family will plead guilty to fraud, federal prosecutors said Monday. The plea agreement by Scott V. Spina Jr., 24, of Roseland was filed Monday in Los Angeles federal court. Spina will plead guilty to five felony charges of wire fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. attorney’s office for the Central District of California announced. In 2017, Spina bought a Patriots’ Super Bowl championship ring from a Patriots player who then left the team. Prosecutors said Spina paid the player — identified only as T.J. — with at least one bad check and sold the ring for $63,000 to a Southern California broker of championship rings. “When Spina obtained the player ring, he also received the information that allowed the former player to purchase Super Bowl rings for family and friends that are slightly smaller than the player rings,” the U.S. attorney’s office statement said. Spina posed as the player and ordered three rings with “Brady” engraved on them, claiming they were gifts for Brady’s baby, prosecutors said.
Los Angeles Daily News
Former USC Linebacker Arrested On Charges Of Running COVID Benefits Scheme
Former USC linebacker Abdul-Malik McClain was arrested Monday on federal charges alleging he orchestrated a scheme that fraudulently sought hundreds of thousands of dollars in COVID-related unemployment benefits. McClain, 22, who transferred to Jackson State, pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles federal court to multiple counts of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. McClain, who was playing for USC during the alleged scheme last year, was ordered released on a $20,000 bond. Trial was set for Feb. 15. Prosecutors allege that, while a member of the team, McClain organized and assisted a group of other players in filing fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits, including under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program established by Congress in response to the pandemic’s economic fallout. The indictment alleges that the claims contained bogus information about the football players’ supposed prior employment, pandemic-related job loss, and job-seeking efforts in California, according to federal prosecutors.
MyNewsLA.com

California K-9 Recovering After Being Stabbed 27 Times
An Escondido police dog stabbed more than two dozen times after biting a fleeing suspect on the leg is slowly recovering from his injuries — but police officials are unclear whether he'll ever be able to work again. Aros, a 7 1/2-year-old Belgian Malinois, underwent treatment for his injuries and is recovering at his handler's home after the Dec. 9 attack. Police said the dog was stabbed on his head and nose by a landlord who was being sought for allegedly stabbing and hitting a tenant with a baseball bat and stabbing the man in his stomach. The suspect was spotted inside a two-car garage. He closed the garage door and refused to come out. Police negotiated with the man for about 20 minutes, but he stopped responding to them, said police Lt. Mark Petersen. Officers entered the garage and the suspect continued to resist arrest, so Officer Chad Moore sent Aros after the man, who had begun climbing into the rafters. The dog jumped up and latched onto the man's leg — and that's when he pulled out a knife and began to "hack away" at Aros' snout, said Petersen, who oversees Escondido's canine program. "What was pretty amazing to me, and I've been involved with canines for 20 years, is the dog just held on. He did his job. He held onto the guy while being stabbed 27 times until the officers were able to get to him safely."
San Diego Union Tribune
After Violent Year, Chicago Mayor Calls For More Help From Feds
Under pressure to reduce violent crime, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot delivered a speech on Monday aimed at reassuring the public that her administration takes the surge in shootings seriously and is working to make the city safer. But the mayor but fell short of offering any fresh strategies, hitting a series of familiar themes in an address of about 40 minutes delivered at the Garfield Park Gold Dome Fieldhouse. While saying the city must address “root causes” of crime, including poverty, Lightfoot called for United States Attorney General Merrick Garland to send additional agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to go after illegal guns and more prosecutors to bring additional criminal cases at the federal level. She also called on Cook County judges to stop releasing people charged with violent crimes on electronic monitoring, reiterating a frequent complaint raised by City Hall and the Chicago Police Department that the court system is too lenient.
Chicago Tribune
Public Safety News

L.A. County Reports Another 60 Omicron Cases
Los Angeles County reported another 60 cases of the omicron coronavirus variant on Monday. That’s a major increase since Friday, when the county had a total of 38 known cases of the worrisome new variant. This mirrors nationwide trends. On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that omicron has raced ahead of other variants to become the dominant version of the coronavirus in the U.S. It accounted for 73% of new infections nationwide last week, federal health officials said. The omicron variant was first identified by scientists in South Africa less than a month ago and dubbed a variant of concern due to its many mutations. Since then, it was reported in 90 countries. The first U.S. case was announced on Dec. 1 in San Francisco. The case involved a traveler who had returned to California from South Africa late last month. The highly transmissible variant is now increasingly being identified throughout California amid an uptick in coronavirus infection and hospitalization numbers.
KTLA 5
No-Burn Order Issued For Much Of Southland Through Tuesday
The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a no-burn order Monday for much of the Southland through Tuesday night due to a forecast of high air pollution in the area. Residents in the South Coast Air Basin are prohibited from burning wood, both indoors and outdoors through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. The South Coast Air Basin includes the non-desert portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and all of Orange County. The order does not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet, the Coachella Valley or the high desert. Homes that rely on wood as a sole source of heat are also exempt from the requirement. Fine particles in wood smoke, also known as particulate matter or PM2.5, can get deep into the lungs and cause respiratory problems such as asthma. Residents can receive no-burn day notifications by signing up for Air Alerts via email or text at http://www.AirAlerts.org.
CBS 2

Omicron Surge Could Hit Some Parts Of California Much Harder Than Others
With Omicron spreading across the United States with stunning speed, California officials and experts are trying to game how the highly infectious variant of the coronavirus will spread through the state and exactly what the response should be to the threat. There remains much unknown about Omicron, but experts say it has the potential to overwhelm hospitals, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates. It’s also possible that parts of highly vaccinated coastal California might be able to withstand the variant better than inland areas, which have struggled with getting residents inoculated as well as promoting mask wearing in indoor public places. The San Francisco Bay Area has some of the highest vaccination rates in state, and officials there believe that could help slow Omicron. By contrast, experts are especially nervous about places with low vaccination rates, like the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley. L.A. and Orange counties, whose vaccination rates are somewhere in between, may see an impact that falls in the middle. One possibility is that the Bay Area will see a relatively small jump in hospitalizations; L.A. County, a medium jump and the Central Valley the highest jump, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious diseases expert at UC San Francisco.
Los Angeles Times
Omicron Becomes The Dominant COVID Variant In The U.S., Accounting For 73% Of New Infections
The highly transmissible Omicron variant is now dominant in the United States, according to new data released by the CDC on Monday. The variant now makes up more than 73% of new infections, a nearly six-fold increase compared to the week before. Omicron makes up the highest share of new cases in the South, Central Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the New York area. The steep rise of the Omicron variant comes as cases surge across the country, particularly in New York, which is reporting one in 10 new cases nationally. On Monday, the state reported its highest number of daily infections for the fourth consecutive day, and New York City is now averaging more daily infections since the pandemic began. But hospitalizations both in the city and statewide have yet to near pandemic records. The surge of new Omicron cases mirrors trends seen in other countries, including South Africa, Denmark, and the United Kingdom. In the U.S., Houston Methodist Hospital found that after less than three weeks, Omicron cases accounted for 82% of new symptomatic COVID patients. It took the Delta variant three months to reach that point.
CBS News
Local Government News

Airbnb Expands Measures To Prevent Unauthorized LA Parties Over New Year's Eve
Airbnb announced Monday that it is expanding its crackdown on New Year's Eve parties in Los Angeles and throughout the U.S. The vacation rental platform first announced on Nov. 2 that it would prohibit guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb from making one-night reservations in entire home listings on Dec. 31. It also said it would restrict local and last-minute two-night reservation bookings during that period by guests without a history of positive reviews. On Monday, the platform announced it would extend its restrictions on two-night bookings to include three-night bookings, as well. The decision was made based on positive feedback from hosts that use the platform, according to Airbnb. In 2020, Airbnb announced a global ban on parties and events with more than 16 people at Airbnb listings in an attempt to prevent nuisances that disturb surrounding neighborhoods. During holidays that attract more unauthorized parties, the platform ramps up its preventative measures, according to Airbnb, which said the program is aimed at protecting its hosts and minimizing neighborhood disruption.
FOX 11

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