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Jul 2021
Newswatch July 22, 2021

Law Enforcement News

Motorcycle Officer Injured In West Adams Crash
A motorcycle officer was rushed to a local hospital following an officer needs help call in the West Adams area on Thursday morning. The crash was reported in the South Los Angeles neighborhood just before 6 a.m. near the intersection of Crenshaw and Jefferson boulevards. No further information was immediately released.
FOX 11

Camera Catches Man Trying To Break Into Van Nuys Home; LAPD Says They Can't Arrest Him Due To Prop 47
Doorbell cameras are designed to keep homeowners safe from intruders, but that didn’t stop one guy from trying to break into a Van Nuys home and despite the evidence, police couldn’t arrest him. On June 29th around 11:30 p.m. a man was seen on security camera video using a metal blade to break into Cindy and Robert Hemingway’s Van Nuys home. Cindy was home alone while Robert was out of town, however he was watching everything unfold through their ring security system. He told his wife to immediately call the cops. She grabbed the phone and called the cops, she also decided to communicate with the man at her door hoping to spook him away. When LAPD officers arrived on scene Cindy showed them the video; their initial response was that the man, who was still in the neighborhood, would be detained. But after communicating with superiors… officers explained there would be no arrest. The Hemingways were told about Prop 47…which reclassifies certain crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. "The officers that night indicated that their hands were tied because of the current policies." The man seen in the video was let go. A few hours later he took off all his clothes and broke into an apartment… not too far away from the Hemingway’s.
FOX 11

Video Released In Search For Drivers In Deadly South L.A. Street Racing Hit-and-Run Crash
Investigators released surveillance video Wednesday in their search for multiple drivers who were allegedly racing when one of them fatally struck a man in South Los Angeles over the weekend. The victim was crossing 89th Street around 8:25 a.m. Sunday as at least three vehicles were racing south on Figueroa Street in the Vermont Vista neighborhood, according to the L.A. Police Department. The driver of a dark-gray 2021 Kia K5 sedan collided with the 59-year-old man as he walked east across 89th in an unmarked crosswalk, officials said. Surveillance video that captured the crash shows the man plowed over in a high-speed impact. One of the other cars involved appears to be a white sedan. The victim was taken to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was not being identified, pending the notification of his next of kin. The Kia driver and other racing motorists fled the scene without stopping to render aid to the man, police said. Anyone with information can contact LAPD Detective Keith Gonzales or Officer Carol Mitchell at 323-421-2500.

Johnny Ray Gasca Of New York Charged With Kidnapping Woman With Dementia From VA Medical Center In West LA
A New York man faces charges of kidnapping a 68-year-old woman with dementia from the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Johnny Ray Gasca, 51, of Bronx, New York appeared in court Tuesday on a federal charge of kidnapping. He did not enter a plea Tuesday and was ordered held without bond, Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said. According to an affidavit, the woman was with a long-time friend at the West Los Angeles facility trying to get a medical appointment when Gasca appeared as they approached their car. Gasca put his arms around the victim and pushed her toward a gold-colored pickup truck parked nearby, then picked her up and threw her into the rear portion of the truck’s passenger compartment, the affidavit said. The woman’s friend told FBI agents that she recognized the Gasca as someone who previously had a relationship with the unidentified woman, and may have taken money from her bank and her retirement accounts, according to the affidavit. The woman previously told her friend she was missing some of her credit cards, and when they went into a bank to review her accounts, they discovered a $35,000 withdrawal from her retirement account, followed by a Venmo, MoneyGram and Paypal transactions that the witness did not believe her friend had knowledge of, or the wherewithal to conduct, the affidavit said.

84-Year-Old Woman Last Seen In Montecito Heights Found Safe: LAPD
An 84-year-old woman who had been missing out of Montecito Heights Wednesday has been found safe, officials said. Cedillo Beltran had last seen at about 4 a.m. Wednesday. The California Highway Patrol activated a Silver Alert amid the search because she was described as “endangered and elderly.” The was eventually found safe and was reunited with family, LAPD Officer Jeff Lee told KTLA.

BMW Driver Travels From LA Into High Desert And Back In Long-Distance Chase
Officers chased the driver of BMW sedan in a long-distance pursuit that began in Los Angeles and entered the high desert before turning back toward LA. The chase began in Los Angeles' Melrose area after a report of a burglary and car theft. The pursuit continued east into San Bernardino County and north into the high desert northeast of Los Angeles. The driver then turned back on the 15 Freeway and headed south. The driver reached speeds up to 150 mph before the abandoning the car and his red shirt in a La Verne neighborhood. He was eventually arrested. The burglary occurred around 7:30 a.m. in the 600 block of Sierra Bonita Avenue, according to Officer Rosario Cervantes of the Los Angeles Police Department. The BMW was among the property taken, Cervantes said. La Verne police reported at 11:41 a.m. that the man was found hiding in a rear house and taken into custody without further incident by CHP officers. He was reported to be between 25 and 35 years-old.

Harvey Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty To Sex Charges In Downtown LA
One day after being extradited from New York, disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty Wednesday, July 21, in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom to sex-related charges involving five women. Weinstein, 69, was flown to Los Angeles on Tuesday and subsequently booked into jail, where he is being held without bail. The former Hollywood mogul was brought into a downtown courtroom Wednesday morning in a wheelchair. His attorney entered the not-guilty plea on his behalf. One of Weinstein’s attorneys, Mark Werksman, said outside court that the latest allegations against his client are not corroborated by any scientific or forensic evidence, adding that he believes Weinstein “will be acquitted” if he gets a fair trial. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio Tapia II ordered Weinstein to return to court July 29 for a hearing on the defense’s motion challenging three of the 11 charges against him. Werksman said that those three charges – involving alleged crimes against two women from 2004 to 2010 – are barred by the statute of limitations. Weinstein has already been sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York, where he was convicted of a criminal sex act against a former production assistant and raping an aspiring actress.
Los Angeles Daily News

Victims, Graphic Videos Lay Bare The Horror Of Ed Buck’s Deadly ‘Party And Play’ Fetish
Carlos was living in a tent beneath a 105 Freeway overpass when a friend told him that a man named Ed Buck would pay him to smoke crystal meth and “prance around in underwear.” The $200 offer was more than Carlos could refuse. He was struggling to survive in the Devil’s Dip encampment. “It meant that I would have a place to shower and lay my head and have some food in my mouth for sure,” he testified at Buck’s federal trial. Buck dispatched an Uber to pick up Carlos and bring him over. With that, Carlos became one of the dozens of young Black men to walk through what prosecutors called the “gates of hell” — the door to Buck’s West Hollywood apartment. In a ritual that twice turned lethal, Buck, who is white, tested how high he could get the men he hired to “party and play,” Carlos and other witnesses testified. He usually paid them a few hundred dollars — less if they refused to let him inject meth into their arms, the men told the jury. After hours of partying, they would stagger out the door in what one neighbor watching the daily foot traffic described as a “drunken stupor.” The sordid details of what took place in the apartment are laid bare in hundreds of videos and photos Buck took of the men smoking or injecting meth naked or in the white underwear that he had them try on for his pleasure.
Los Angeles Times

Outgunned: Why California’s Groundbreaking Firearms Law Is Failing
Two decades ago, California legislators added a new weapon to the state’s growing arsenal of gun-control measures, already among the toughest in the nation. Their motivation came from 2,000 miles away in a shaken Chicago suburb. It was there that a gunman opened fire in an engine factory where he’d worked for nearly 40 years. He killed four people and wounded four others before pulling the trigger on himself. It was soon revealed that some of the weapons he smuggled inside should have been earlier confiscated because of his past criminal convictions. In the wake of the rampage, and with lofty expectations, California became the first state in the country to create a database identifying thousands of people who’d legally purchased guns but were now deemed too dangerous to be armed. In a rare display of bipartisanship — especially on an issue as fractious as gun control — the California Legislature wanted to give state and local authorities a methodical way to remove firearms from individuals who’d lost their right to bear them because of violent crimes, serious mental health issues or active restraining orders. But what seemed at the time like a straight-forward approach to the enforcement of existing gun laws has instead become mired in chronic shortcomings, failing for years to make good on its potential. Successive administrations have vowed to fix the problems, but all have fallen short.

DOJ Launches Gun Trafficking Strike Forces In 5 Cities
The Justice Department is launching an effort in five cities in the U.S. to reduce spiking gun violence by addressing illegal trafficking and prosecuting offenses that help put guns in the hands of criminals. Attorney General Merrick Garland will launch the gun trafficking strike forces in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The effort will include stepped-up enforcement in so-called supply areas — cities and states where it’s easier to obtain firearms that are later trafficked into other cities with more restrictive gun laws. Besides prioritizing gun crimes, the strike forces will embrace intelligence sharing and prosecutions across jurisdictions, Justice Department officials said. Authorities have also embedded federal agents in homicide units of police departments across the U.S., have been deploying additional crime analysts and are conducting fugitive sweeps to arrest people who have outstanding state and federal warrants for violent crimes. Violent crimes, particularly homicides and shootings, are up in many cities around the country, and the Biden administration has sought to aid communities hamstrung by violence.
Associated Press

Dashcam Video Shows Officer Strangled, Beaten At Traffic Stop
Three people accused of beating an Aurora police officer following a traffic stop last month are now facing attempted first-degree murder charges in connection with the incident, police and Kane County State's Attorney's Office officials said Wednesday. Jennifer Taylor, 24, of Chicago, Sheba Taylor, 26, of Chicago, and Paul Sherrod Taylor, 28, of DeKalb, were charged with multiple felonies last month and then indicted by a Kane County grand jury July 16 on attempted murder charges in connection with the case. The three are out on bond and are due back in court for arraignment on Sept. 24. "Because of the strangulation and because of the research that we know about how quickly it is for somebody to lose their life as a result of somebody preventing them from being able to breathe, we believe that the proper charge was attempted first-degree murder," Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser said Wednesday of the upgrading of the charges against the three people.
The Beacon-News, Aurora, Ill.

Public Safety News

63-Year-Old Man Found Dead In Tent During Westchester Property Fire
A man died in a residential property fire in Westchester late Wednesday night, a few blocks from Loyola Marymount University. The fire was reported at 11:43 p.m. in the 8300 block of Stewart Avenue. Los Angeles Fire Department crews responded to find the cluttered yard of a single-family home ablaze. The yard had “excessive storage conditions,” the fire department said. While battling the flames, firefighters discovered a 63-year-old man dead inside a vinyl carport-style tent in the yard. Firefighters learned that the man lived at the home but often spent time inside the tent. His name was not immediately released. It took crews 17 minutes to bring the fire under control. Firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to the home and the garage on the property. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Firefighters Extinguish Massive Blaze At Former Supermarket Building In Sun Valley
A massive fire erupted early Thursday morning at a structure that formerly housed a supermarket in Sun Valley, prompting a response from more than 100 Los Angeles firefighters. The blaze was reported shortly after 3 a.m. at an 80,000-square-foot building in the 8000 block of North Vineland Avenue, according to the LAFD. No injuries were immediately reported, and it was unclear if anyone was inside the single-story structure when the fire began. Firefighters initially took up defensive positions at the scene, as massive flames and smoke emanated from the building's roof, which later collapsed. The LAFD declared the incident to be a "major emergency," and arson investigators were summoned to the location in accordance with protocol, a news release said. At about 4:45 a.m., the Fire Department announced that the fire was extinguished.

L.A. County Sees Big Surge In Coronavirus: 2,551 New Cases In One Day
Los Angeles County reported its largest single-day total of new coronavirus cases in months as the region races to wrap its arms around what officials now say is a new surge of the virus. Public health officials reported 2,551 new infections Wednesday — the highest figure since early March, when the county was shaking off the last vestiges of the fall-and-winter wave. Wednesday’s report continues a troubling pattern of increased transmission that emerged after the state’s June 15 reopening and coincided with increased circulation of the hypercontagious Delta variant. “Because of the more infectious Delta variant and the intermingling of unmasked individuals where vaccination status is unknown, unfortunately, we are seeing a surge in cases in L.A. County that looks somewhat similar to last summer,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “An important difference this summer is that, with millions of people vaccinated, we are hopeful we will avoid similar increases in deaths.”
Los Angeles Times
Local Government News

Some Residents Push Back Against New Plan To Offer Safe Camping For Homeless In LA City Parks
The LA City Council is considering a plan that could section off parts of public parks for safe and secure camping sites for people experiencing homelessness. And the news isn’t sitting well with area residents. Westchester Park and Mar Vista Park are two of the suggested locations in a feasibility study requested by LA Councilman for District 11 Mike Bonin. Neighbors in Westchester point to picnic tables, ball fields and parking lots all cramped with tents that grew exponentially during the COVID pandemic. “No matter where they put safe camping in Westchester Park, it’s going to affect us,” says Beth O’Rourke, a youth sports director for West Side rugby clubs. “We’ve witnessed public urination, we’ve witnessed feces on the field, around the field. The restrooms are unusable for an adult let alone a child.” The City of LA’s Recreation and Parks Department has been renovating the fields in recent weeks but some residents say the tents that line the perimeter prove the priority is not on the kids who use the park, but on the homeless who abuse it.



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