Law Enforcement News
LAPD Adding Investigative, Uniformed Staff To Combat Increased Crime
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that over the next three months the department will use added staff in its investigative and uniform units in an effort to curb an increase in homicides and gun violence in Los Angeles. The department has a 20% solve rate for shooting victim cases and about a 70% solve rate for homicide cases, Moore said. The city has experienced 44 more homicides this year verse the same period last year, and has seen an additional 250 shooting victims. About 19 people were shot on average each week in the city in 2020, and Moore says the number has increased to 28 per week in 2021. "We need to ensure that the public is working with us and us with the public to identify those responsible so that we can stop further acts of violence," Moore said. "I believe that our investment over the next 90 days – centering on what works, what we know as far as enforcement, what we know as far as community engagement and a uniformed presence in our communities – holds some promise to stem the tide of this increase that is occurring not just here but across the country."
L.A. Police Commission Appoints New President, Who Promptly Rejects ‘Defund’ Movement
After being appointed president of the Los Angeles Police Department’s civilian oversight panel on Tuesday, attorney William Briggs promptly rejected the notion that the LAPD should be “defunded,” arguing instead that it needs more sworn officers to keep the city safe. “Our communities of color that are most impacted by crime, many of which have seen the homicide rate rise above 30% this year, cannot afford to go without law enforcement,” Briggs said in prepared remarks, which he delivered after unanimous appointment by his Police Commission colleagues. Briggs, who is Black and a partner at the law firm Venable, was nominated to the commission by Mayor Eric Garcetti in November, joined the panel in December and had been serving as its vice president before Tuesday’s vote. Briggs’ swift dismissal of the “defund the police” movement comes as homicides and shootings have surged in the city to levels not seen in a decade and as the LAPD tries to rebound after losing hundreds of officers — dropping from more than 10,000 sworn cops to fewer than 9,500 because of a hiring freeze spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial toll on city coffers. Briggs’ comments also come after a year of mass protests and calls from activists for the LAPD’s significant budget to be slashed and reallocated to social service providers and mental health clinicians, who the activists believe would be better suited to handle an increasing number of calls involving people who are mentally ill, homeless or addicted to drugs.
Los Angeles Times
Bicyclist Fatally Shoots Man In Car In Canoga Park, Police Say
A bicyclist shot and killed a Glendale man in his car on Victory Boulevard in Canoga Park on Monday afternoon, July 26, authorities said. The shooting happened about 2:15 p.m. near the 21300 block of Victory, police said, without elaborating to say if the victim’s car was moving or parked. Mkher Alaverdian, 43, was found with a gunshot wound and taken to a hospital, where he died. Witnesses said the shooting stemmed from a dispute minutes earlier in the 6400 block of DeSoto Avenue, police said. The suspect, a man who police described as possibly in his 40s, then approached Alaverdian and fired into his car, said Officer William Cooper, an LAPD spokesman. Police, who said they believe there were other witnesses, asked those with additional information on the case to call them at 818-374-9550.
Los Angeles Daily News
LAPD Investigating Shooting That Ended In Fatal Crash
The Los Angeles Police Department is looking into the death of a 25-year-old man they was killed when his car ran into the Westminster Senior Center. The driver is also suspect in a shooting that took place a few blocks away. It happened around 10:30 a.m. near Brooks and Pacific Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Police say a 25-year- old male was driving down Brooks Avenue [near Pacific Avenue] when neighbors say they heard multiple gun shots go off. The suspect was believed to have fired his gun--and then took off, according to police. Officers say he left the area at a high speed--possibly losing control and crashing his car into the Westminster Senior Center. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Los Angeles Fire Department. As of Tuesday evening, this remains a developing story.
Two Arrested After Standoff In Echo Park Following Discovery Of Body
Two people were in police custody Wednesday after barricading themselves in an Echo Park house for several hours with a dead body. The two were arrested around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday without incident, said a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman. “We’re still investigating what happened. They might be squatters at the residence but we’re not sure yet,” the spokesman told City News Service. LAPD units were called about 6:27 p.m. Tuesday to the residence in the 1100 block of Douglas Street, near Sunset Boulevard, to conduct a welfare check, according to Officer William Cooper of LAPD’s Media Relations Division. Los Angeles Fire Department personnel located a body at the residence, and police were called to the scene. However, the two people inside the house refused to leave and allow authorities to investigate the death. LAPD SWAT units were called to assist with the barricaded individuals, Cooper said. No further details were released.
Dominic Choi Named LAPD’s First Asian American Assistant Chief
Tuesday was a historic night for the Los Angeles Police Department with the announcement of its first Asian American assistant chief. Dominic Choi, who is Korean American, was promoted to deputy chief almost two years ago. He will now be one of three people to hold the second-highest rank in the department — an honor and a challenge he said he was ready to take on. “For the chief to have confidence in me to select me for this position, I’m honored,” he said. “I’m excited. It’s a huge challenge, I think I’m up for it, and I’m just ready to start off running and doing the best job I can.” Choi has served in a number of positions with the LAPD over his more than 25-year career, including stints as an investigative and internal affairs officer.
Driver Left Young Child Behind After Crashing SUV In Van Nuys: LAPD
A young child was left behind in an SUV after the driver crashed the vehicle into a parked van and left the scene in Van Nuys Monday night, police said. First responders were called to an area near the intersection of Van Nuys Boulevard and Vanowen Street around 9:30 p.m. after receiving a call of a traffic collision involving a parked van and an SUV, the LAPD said. A witness told authorities that the driver of the SUV ran away from the scene after the crash. Arriving firefighters and officers located a young boy alone in the SUV. First responders worked to comfort the young boy and a paramedic even played videos on his phone to get the boy to calm down. Officials did not release the boy’s age, but he was taken into custody and later released to his mother. The relationship between the boy and the male driver is unknown. The investigation is ongoing.
LA County Offers $80,000 Reward In 3 Allegedly Related Homicides
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, July 27, approved a reward of $80,000 in connection with three East Los Angeles homicides committed over a period of more than four years that investigators believe are related. Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended the reward for information on whoever killed 33-year-old Jesus Avalos in 2014, 38-year-old Eduardo Robles in 2015, and Amanda Nicole Lopez, a 27-year-old mother to a then-4-year-old son, in 2018. “The lives of Jesus ‘Jesse’ Avalos, Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Robles and Amanda Nicole Lopez were unjustly and senselessly taken by gun violence in East Los Angeles,” Solis said in a statement after the board approved the reward. “While the county continues to make investments in community prevention strategies to address community trauma and violence, we are also counting on residents to help us bring accountability to the perpetrators of these heinous crimes,” she added. Avalos was found shot to death in his black SUV at about 3:20 a.m. Feb. 11, 2014, at 4833 Telegraph Road by sheriff’s deputies responding to a report of shots fired. Robles was gunned down after getting into a fight with two men in the driveway of an apartment complex at around 7:30 p.m. on July 6, 2015, at 4350 Eagle St. The two men originally drove off in a light-colored compact car, but the driver then circled back and one of the men got out and fired on Robles, who died at the scene.
Los Angeles Daily News
Man, 22, Reported Missing Near Beverly Hills
Authorities Tuesday were searching for a missing 22-year-old man who suffers from schizophrenia and was last seen near Beverly Hills. Xavier Zaire Murphy was last seen just after 2:15 p.m. Sunday near Mulholland Drive, according to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department statement. Murphy is Black, 6-feet-2 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds, with curly hair dyed blonde and brown eyes. He also wears glasses and was last seen wearing a black hoodie, Dickies pants and Vans shows. Anyone with information on his whereabouts was asked to contact the LASD Missing Persons Unit at 323-890-5500. Anonymous tips can be called in to Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477 or submitted online at lacrimestoppers.org.
Man Charged With Hate Crime In Attack On Korean Woman In Santa Monica
A 65-year-old man was charged Tuesday in connection with a hate crime attack on a Korean woman in Santa Monica. Melvin Taylor is charged with one felony count each of assault with a deadly weapon, assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury and attempted second-degree robbery, along with a hate crime allegation, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. Taylor allegedly attacked the woman while she parked at a meter in the 1500 block of Second Street last Friday, according to the District Attorney's Office. He is accused of yelling racial slurs and mentioning the coronavirus while trying to steal her purse, according to prosecutors. Taylor's attorney declared a doubt about the defendant's mental competency, according to Ricardo Santiago of the DA's Office. Criminal proceedings were ordered to be suspended, with Taylor due in a mental health courtroom next month, Santiago said.
Political Donor Ed Buck Found Guilty In West Hollywood Fatal Meth Overdose Case
Jurors have found former political donor Ed Buck guilty on multiple charges linked to the methamphetamine overdose deaths of two men in his West Hollywood apartment. The jury deliberated for 4 1/2 hours before finding Buck guilty on all nine counts he was facing. Buck was convicted in Los Angeles federal court of two counts of distribution of controlled substances resulting in death, stemming from the deaths of Gemmel Moore in July 2017 and Timothy Dean in January 2019. Those charges both carry 20-year mandatory minimums. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled for a later date. Buck was also convicted of enticing Moore and another man to travel to Los Angeles to engage in prostitution; knowingly and intentionally distributing methamphetamine; and using his West Hollywood apartment for the purpose of distributing narcotics such as methamphetamine, and the sedatives gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) and clonazepam.
LA Art Dealer Arrested On Federal Embezzlement Charges
A noted Los Angeles art dealer was arrested Tuesday on federal charges accusing him of embezzling more than $260,000 from the bankruptcy estate of Ace Gallery, a Miracle Mile-based art gallery, while acting as the estate’s trustee and custodian. Douglas J. Chrismas, 77, of the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles surrendered without incident Tuesday morning to special agents of the FBI. A federal grand jury charged Chrismas via indictment with three counts of embezzlement against a bankruptcy estate. Chrismas, who was ordered released on $50,000 bond, has pleaded not guilty to the charges and a Sept. 21 trial date has been scheduled, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. If convicted of all charges, he would face up to 15 years in federal prison.
$20K Reward Offered After Army Veteran Killed At Family Birthday Party In Lancaster
Ismael Zabala, 26, was the pride of his family. He was a decorated U.S. Army veteran - a burly young man beaming with American patriotism and serving his country with distinction. Sadly, the American hero would meet his tragic end on the very soil he vowed to protect from foreign enemies. A gunman shot and killed the military veteran while he was enjoying a family birthday celebration the morning of Dec. 20, 2020 in Lancaster. The victim's father, Alex Zabala, says the shooting was just senseless. The victim's mother remains in tears hoping for justice and closure. Detectives have a suspect in custody, but will not elaborate on his arrest. They are looking for another man, identified as Oscar Palazuelos, who they say is a second murder suspect. Lt. Derrick Alfred of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department says an arrest warrant has been issued for Palazuelos. Authorities believe the suspect has gone into hiding. Detectives say both suspects briefly attended the birthday party, but were asked to leave and that's when things turned for the worst. Alfred says Palazuelos and the second suspect drew handguns, and Palazuelos fired his gun, hitting Zabala and his brother. Zabala died as a result of the gunshot wounds.
Public Safety News
L.A. Will Require City Employees To Get Vaccinated Or Regularly Tested For COVID-19
Los Angeles will require city employees to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing to show they have tested negative, Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced Tuesday. Garcetti, announcing the new requirements, cited “an alarming spike in cases among our city workforce.” The plan is expected to be rolled out through a mayoral order issued Wednesday, following a meeting of a city committee focused on employee relations that will discuss how the new requirements will be implemented. Martinez expressed deep frustration with the rebound in infections, saying that Angelenos who had stayed inside to protect themselves and others were “getting tired of protecting people who don’t want to protect themselves.” “We need unvaccinated Angelenos to stop dragging their feet,” Martinez said. “As the largest employer in the city of Los Angeles, this is us doing our part.” Many details about the plan remain to be worked out, but city departments will be directed to gather and report information about whether their employees are vaccinated by Aug. 13, Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said.
Los Angeles Times
Statewide Flex Alert Issued For Wednesday As California Heat Threatens Electric Grid
A Flex Alert was issued for Wednesday as California grapples with higher than normal temperatures that are posing a risk to the state’s electric grid. The statewide alert will be in place from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, in an attempt to avoid power disruptions and rolling blackouts, the California Independent System Operator, which runs most of the state’s electric grid, said in a news release Tuesday. Flex Alerts are a call to consumers to voluntarily conserve energy when demand for power could outstrip supply, which generally occurs during heat waves when electrical demand is high. Such conservation would help ease the strain on the grid during the crucial evening hours when solar energy is diminished or no longer available, the ISO said. “With higher than normal temperatures in the forecast for parts of interior Northern California, the power grid operator is predicting an increase in electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use,” the agency said. “The increase can make electricity supplies tight and cause strain on our power grid.”
Local Government News
Los Angeles County Approves Guaranteed Income Program
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved a plan for a three-year pilot program to provide $1,204 per month to 150 county residents age 18-24. The money would go to youth transitioning out of foster care or probation who are currently receiving general relief benefits and participating in the Department of Public Social Services' TAYportunity program. As envisioned by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn, who co-authored the motion, the program would include $1,000 in income and $204 each month in CalFresh benefits, but would not affect the $221 in monthly general relief benefits that these young adults already rely on. Youth receiving these county benefits -- who are mostly male and Black or Latino -- do not qualify for any other federal or state cash assistance and face particularly severe challenges to becoming self-sufficient, according to the motion.
Los Angeles City Council To Vote On Ordinance To Restrict Encampments
The Los Angeles City Council today is expected to finalize a controversial ordinance to restrict sleeping and homeless encampments in certain areas of the city, including within 500 feet of schools, day care facilities, parks and libraries. Thirteen council members voted to approve the ordinance on July 1, but with Councilman Mike Bonin and Councilwoman Nithya Raman dissenting, the ordinance fell short of the unanimous approval needed on its first consideration. Today it will only need eight votes to pass. The motion to request the ordinance was introduced as a substitute motion to a stricter anti-camping draft ordinance that was stalled in the Homelessness and Poverty Committee since November. Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is running for mayor partly on an agenda to enforce the city's anti-camping laws, invoked a rarely used rule on June 23 to have the council pull the draft ordinance from committee.