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Jul 2021
Newswatch July 30, 2021

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Law Enforcement News

Man Killed In South L.A. Area
A man who was shot in the south Los Angeles area died Thursday at a hospital, and his killer was being sought. The shooting was reported about 11:55 p.m. Wednesday in the 400 block of West 95th Street, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. The man was taken in critical condition to a hospital, where he died on Thursday morning, police said. Information on his identity was not immediately available. No arrests were reported, and no description was available of the suspect. Anyone with information on the crime was urged to call 877-LAPD-247.

Response Times Remain Extremely Slow For LAPD Mental Health Units, Commissioner Says
Faced with overwhelming demand and slow response times, the Los Angeles Police Department is again looking to expand its team of officers and clinicians tasked with calls involving people with mental illnesses. The Mental Evaluation Unit responded to 9,725 calls in 2020, according to a report presented to the L.A. Police Commission on Tuesday, the largest number of calls in at least three years. That number grew steadily even as the team slid back in the number of specialized units it could deploy over the course of a day — just 13, versus the 17 LAPD is budgeted for. The unit was spared from recent budget cuts, but Capt. Chris Waters, an MEU commander, said the team shrank due to attrition. That means that the dozen or so units across the entire city over 24 hours are responding to, at least, 26 calls a day, some that take hours to resolve. And LAPD believes there are actually more calls they could be responding to: Officers who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting estimated there could be between 12,000 to 13,000 calls total that are still getting only a traditional police response. “The demand means that these resources are not always available to the officers in the field,” Waters said.
Los Angeles Daily News

Op-Ed: Councilman Mike Bonin’s Homeless Rhetoric Devolves Into Self-Contradiction
On Wednesday the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-2 to pass a new safe open places ordinance, which will empower authorities to enforce no camping laws in parks and other public rights of way. It includes certain limitations and protections, most importantly a 14-day notice period to potentially affected individuals. Enforcement will be on a site-by-site basis and require City Council action. It’s a marginal, no-brainer step that will allow officials to address some of the worst and most dangerous encampments. It’s a no-brainer, that is, unless you’re Mike Bonin. Along with Nithaya Raman he cast a dissenting vote. Apparently Mr. Bonin remains content with a status quo in which death, murder, suicide, rape, violent assault, property damage, rampant drug use, and public disturbances of every imaginable sort are quotidian facts of life like the tides in Santa Monica Bay. After all, he greets news of the latest fire, rape, or death with less than a shrug – people (both unhoused and housed) suffering unimaginable tragedies don’t merit so much as a Tweet from the Baron of Boise Avenue. The problem for Mr. Bonin, both politically and morally, is that his justifications have devolved into almost comical self-contradiction. Take a look again at the two quotes above – both cannot be true. Either most people need long-term housing or most people need short-term transitional solutions. If he cannot agree with himself on this most fundamental issue how can constituents have faith in him to solve the larger crises?
Westside Current

Pelicans Center Jaxson Hayes Arrested After Altercation With LAPD In Woodland Hills
New Orleans Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes was arrested early Wednesday morning in Woodland Hills after a physical altercation with police, authorities said. Officers responded shortly before 3 a.m. to a radio call of a domestic dispute in the 22000 block of Mariano Street, according to the LAPD. The officers encountered the 21-year-old Hayes in the front yard of a home and informed him that "they received a call at the location and needed to speak with the victim," and asked Hayes to stay outside while they did so, the LAPD said in a Thursday statement. According to investigators, body camera video shows Hayes repeatedly trying to enter the residence despite officers blocking his path and verbal commands to remain outside. Officers requested backup at the scene and tried to place Hayes' hand behind his back, but he "broke free of the officers' grasp and pushed one of the officers into a wall," the news release said. The footage has not been made public. After police used "physical force to take Hayes down to the ground to overcome his resistance," the LAPD said, he allegedly tried to get up and continued resisting.

Caught On Video: Brawl On Venice Beach Boardwalk
Cellphone video shows an all-out brawl between what appears to be at least three homeless men Wednesday on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. In the video, posted to Twitter, a man with a large pole can be seen charging another man who is exchanging punches with a third man. At one point, a security guard is seen attempting to break up the fight, but to no avail. “It’s not an uncommon sight,” Adam Merchant, assistant manager of the Fig Tree Restaurant, said. Merchant said that fights like this happen all too often and that the homelessness crisis has taken a major toll on local businesses. “With the restaurant being open until 9 or 10 o’clock, people are scared to come to the boardwalk past a certain time,” Merchant said. This boardwalk brawl comes on the as efforts are underway to clear out the countless tents that have taken over one of Southern California’s most popular tourist attractions.

Corvette Police Chase: Satellite Security System Credited With Stopping Van Nuys Pursuit
A satellite security system is being credited with stopping a police chase involving a stolen sports car. A driver suspected of stealing the Corvette was leading California Highway Patrol on a chase in the San Fernando Valley around 1:15 p.m. Typically when FOX 11 covers police chases, especially ones involving sports cars, there's always that fear of the pursuit turning into a high-speed chase. But thanks to the OnStar security system, the chase ended peacefully in Van Nuys. Officers on scene said the security system automatically disabled the shiny purple car after it realized the Corvette was stolen. CHP officers were able to place the police chase suspect in custody. In addition to being charged with stealing the car, the suspect was accused of having an AK-47 with them.
FOX 11

LASD Investigating Deadly Shooting In South Los Angeles Area
A man was shot and killed in the South Los Angeles area Thursday night. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department responded to a call of a shooting in the 11400 block of Vermont Avenue around 5:30 p.m. A man was taken to the hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. As of Thursday night, no arrests have been announced and the shooter's identity has not been released. Anyone with information on the deadly shooting is asked to call 323-890-5500.
FOX 11

Man, 19, Reported Missing In San Pedro
Authorities Thursday were searching for a missing 19-year-old man who was last seen in San Pedro. Jankell Hernan Aguilar was last seen riding a black bicycle at about 8 a.m. Monday in the 1100 block of 2nd Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Aguilar is Hispanic, 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds, with wavy black hair, a thin black beard along his jawline and brown eyes. He wears glasses and was last seen wearing a gray jacket, tan pants and gray shoes. Anyone with information on Aguilar’s 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

Culver City Police Searching For Man Suspected In 2 Armed Robberies
Police Thursday released surveillance video of a man suspected in two armed robberies in the Culver City area. The newly released video shows a man robbing a Chevron gas station, 5975 Green Valley Circle, at about 1:45 a.m. July 14. In the video, the man walks into the convenience store, pulls out a gun and demands money from the cashier before fleeing the scene. Police believe the same man robbed a CVS in the Fox Hills Plaza, 6299 Bristol Parkway, three hours earlier. In that case, police said the man pulled a gun on the cashier and fled the scene on foot after receiving about $450 from the cash register. The suspect is described as a man in his 20s. He was last seen wearing all black clothing and a black face mask. Anyone with information was asked to call Culver City Police Department Assistant Chief Jason Sims at 310-253-6391.

L.A. Judge Dismisses 1 Of 11 Sexual Assault Counts Against Harvey Weinstein
A Los Angeles judge on Thursday dismissed one of 11 sexual assault counts against Harvey Weinstein, giving the former movie mogul and convicted rapist a minor and possibly temporary victory. At a hearing with the 69-year-old Weinstein in the courtroom, Judge Lisa B. Lench agreed with his defense attorneys that a count alleging sexual battery by restraint in May of 2010 was too old, and outside the statute of limitations. But she gave the prosecution permission to refile the charge in a way that may be allowable, setting up an ongoing fight. Weinstein pleaded not guilty to four counts of rape and seven other sexual assault counts last week in his first court appearance in the California case. He was extradited from New York, where he is serving a 23-year sentence for convictions of rape and sexual assault. In Los Angeles, Weinstein was first charged with the now-dismissed count in January of 2020, before the statute of limitations had expired. Prosecutors then got an indictment from a grand jury on an identical count six months later, when the time had lapsed.

California Woman Shot In Head In Front Of 6-Year-Old Daughter In Possible Case Of Mistaken Identity
A California woman was shot in her car in front of her young daughter and investigators believe it may have been a case of mistaken identity. Fresno Police officers responded to the intersection of Kearney Blvd. and Thorne Avenue around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday and discovered Jacqueline Flores, 25, inside of a parked car suffering from a single gunshot wound to her head. Authorities said that Flores's 6-year-old daughter was in the backseat of the car when her mother was shot. "Fortunately, the child was not injured, but the bullet did enter the rear window where the child was seated," Fresno Police wrote in a press release Thursday. Flores is currently fighting for her life at a hospital and is listed in grave condition. Investigators said they do not believe Flores was the intended target, and believe the senseless act of violence may have been a case of mistaken identity. Authorities are asking for the public's help and encourage anyone who might know anything about the shooting to contact the Fresno Police Department.
FOX 11

California’s Long History On Assault Weapons On The Line In Court Battle
Born of a long history of gun violence, California’s pioneering assault weapons ban was enacted in 1989 after a herculean effort by lawmakers driven by outrage over a mass shooting at a Stockton elementary school. Legislators said they had to overcome a years-long grip on the Capitol by the National Rifle Assn. and shift strategies to pass the first-in-the-nation law. But now, after a federal judge’s ruling declared it unconstitutional, gun safety advocates fear California’s trailblazing work is in jeopardy, concerned that the decision could help unravel decades of hard-fought progress here and across the country. U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez on June 4 issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of much of California’s ban on purchasing assault rifles. State Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta has appealed the Benitez ruling, saying the state’s “strong common sense gun laws help curb not only mass shootings but gun violence as a whole.” Last month, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals put Benitez’s ruling on hold pending decisions in gun cases that are now before the court. Benitez’s take on the law is not shared by most California voters, 56% of who don’t believe that the assault weapons law violates the U.S. Constitution, according to a poll released Thursday by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.
Los Angeles Times

Nevada Trooper Struck While Deploying Stop Sticks Dies
Trooper Micah May of the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) has died after spending two nights in critical condition. May was laying stop sticks along a highway when the carjacking suspect he was trying to apprehend hit him. After the collision, the suspect was shot dead by police, according to FOX 5. The driver was identified as 60-year-old Douglas Claiborne. May was airlifted to a hospital where he later died. The NHP confirmed his death in a tweet late Thursday. "Trooper May’s heroism exemplified the definition of a silent guardian. His dedication and service will never be forgotten," George Togliatti, director of the Nevada Department of Public Safety, told FOX 5. "Our hearts go out to this grieving family and recognize the unique sacrifice to the State of Nevada." May is survived by his wife and two children, according to the NHP.

New Data Shows US Homicide Rate Rising, But At A Slower Rate
Data released Thursday by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) shows that murder rates in major American cities continue to rise, but at a slower pace than in the first half of 2021. According to the CCJ, a study of 22 cities found that the number of murders was 16% higher in the first six months of 2021 than during the same period in 2020, and 42% higher than 2019. To put that in context, the 2021 homicide rate is still about half of what it was in the early 1990s, the report says. Regardless, the study’s authors called for “urgent action” to address the violence. To investigate causes of the spike, the CCJ is launching a new panel called the Violent Crime Working Group. The panel aims to “help decision-makers translate rigorous evidence and lived experience into effective policy and practice,” according to the release. The group will be comprised of 15 leaders in law enforcement, public health, academia and community violence intervention. “The recent rise in homicide has added urgency to our efforts to bring peace to our cities,” said Thomas Abt, a violence reduction expert and panel member with the CCJ. “The Council is grateful for this diverse group of experts who have dedicated themselves to this project, and I firmly believe our collaboration can produce solutions that can make a difference now.”

Public Safety News

LAFD Hazmat Squad On Scene At Sun Valley Recycling Center
A hazardous materials team was sent Thursday morning to a recycling center on the 9200 block of Tujunga Avenue in the Sun Valley area, where some people may have been exposed to an unknown chemical, according to the LAFD. Firefighters evaluated the 49 people who evacuated the building at Waste Management’s Sun Valley Recycling Park, and there were no medical complaints, said LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart. No one was transported to the hospital, she added. The LAFD Hazmat Squad was entering the building to look for hazardous chemicals, Stewart said.
Los Angeles Daily News

App Helps Firefighters Locate And Rescue Missing People
An innovative tool is making it easier for Los Angeles firefighters to rescue hundreds of people. It is an application called "What Three Words," which many people use to meet friends, or even to be able to locate the place where they parked, but firefighters have found this app to be a great ally. Rescues by air, water and land are one of the most important tasks performed by the Los Angeles Fire Department personnel, but in this delicate work there is an element that they are always fighting against… time. “The seconds make a difference when rescuing people, especially if you are having a medical emergency. Even a five-minute difference is very important because it is the time it takes for the brain to die," said David Ortiz, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. On many occasions, the person who needs help cannot tell you where he or she is. “There are times when people say, I'm in the coliseum, what part of the coliseum, the stadium? It's huge! I'm at the park! What part of the park?" When people are stressed, in an emergency, they often lose their temper and forget the street, address, which direction of the highway. That is why, in July, the fire department decided to experiment with the “What Three Words” application, which as the name implies, in three words, gives the exact location of a person.

Number Of ‘Breakthrough’ Cases On The Rise In L.A., But Data Shows The Vaccinated Are Still Strongly Protected
Los Angeles County has seen a rise in “breakthrough” coronavirus cases as of late, but data continue to show those who are vaccinated for COVID-19 enjoy vigorous protection — even from the contagious Delta variant — and are far less likely to be hospitalized should they become infected. The latest figures underscore how the county’s recent coronavirus surge is different from the pandemic’s earlier spikes, both in terms of who is getting sick and how the virus is spreading countywide. In June, fully vaccinated residents made up 20% of all confirmed coronavirus infections in those 16 and older, according to figures from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. However, that same month, they accounted for only 8% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations.

California’s 2020 Fire Siege: Wildfires By The Numbers
The most telltale number is 4.2 million. That’s the stop-in-your-tracks figure — the total acreage burned — from last year’s fire siege, the worst year in California’s long history of wildfires. 2020 was a fire year of unforgettable and awful superlatives. In the new world of mega-fires, a series of wildfires exploded late in August with a barrage of lightning and fires that blazed for four months. The 4.2 million acres burned last year is equivalent to the entire area of Los Angeles, Orange, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties combined. The state’s first giga-fire — the August Complex — alone consumed one million acres in the northern Coast Range. Before the season was over, 31 people, including 3 firefighters, lost their lives. George Morris III, an assistant regional chief for Cal Fire, dwells on all these numbers. In the middle of last year’s desperate firefight, he was assigned to compile an historical account in part so the agency could learn lessons from the record-breaking season. Morris wrote a 122-page report that is a compendium of relentless statistics and gripping narratives.

Local Government News

Venice Beach Becomes A Flashpoint In L.A.’s Homeless Crisis
David de Russy steered his bicycle through a sparse crowd of midweek visitors streaming down Los Angeles’ Venice Beach boardwalk between multimillion-dollar homes, T-shirt shops and eateries on one side and vendors peddling paintings, hawking crystals and offering tarot card readings on the other. For the first time in about a year, he was happy the view toward the ocean was largely unobscured with the misery of homeless camps that mushroomed along the sands during the coronavirus pandemic. “Thank God it’s getting cleared up,” de Russy said, though a remaining cluster of tents renewed what he described as “this sickening feeling that comes with seeing human beings in that condition.” An effort to house homeless people and remove clutter that proliferated is nearing completion. But residents upset over government inaction that allowed the problem to get out of control are warily watching how it unfolds and whether the cleanup takes hold. A problem once largely limited to the Skid Row section of downtown has spread to virtually all parts of Los Angeles. The nation’s second-largest city also has the second-largest homeless population in the country — 41,000 among the overall city population of 4 million people, according to the most recent survey conducted before the pandemic.



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