Tuesdays Column (Memories of El Monte)

Serious questions need to be asked of the El Monte Police Department’s brass.

Last Wednesday the department came under scrutiny after one of its officers kicked a prone suspect in the head. That the kick came at the end of a high-speed pursuit offers little — if any — justification.

Richard Rodriguez, 22, of El Monte, a tattooed member of the El Monte Flores street gang took the full force kick to the head in stunning hi-def on live television.
Rodriguez was subsequently booked for parole violations, evading police and several other crimes. He is being held in Men’s Central — probably waiting for a bus back to state prison, where he belongs.

The officer who delivered the kick, identified as George Fierro, returned to work the next day. Fierro, come to find out, owns a clothing company that caters to gang members and glorifies the Mexican Mafia.

His “brand” so sickens good cops that at least one tried to warn California gang investigators about a potential rogue in their midst.

“Has anyone seen or know about this gang clothing that a police officer is selling to gangsters,” LAPD Detective David Espinoza wrote. “I understand the gangs really love this cop. I understand the clothing has hiding places for contraband, guns and dope. Things that can hurt our real cops on the street.”

It’s hard to believe, El Monte police Chief Tom Armstrong had no knowledge of Fierro’s extracurricular activities.

There are many other questions Armstrong needs to answer.

At a press conference the day following Rodriguez’s beat down, Armstrong sent Lt. Ken Alva to face the music. He read from a prepared statement, took a limited number of queries, then retreated to the safety of the police station.

On Friday, Armstrong and Alva took the day off. That came despite the fact that both men are very highly paid public servants and their department is facing a crisis.

Armstrong refused Monday to release a tape of the pursuit, which is a public record.


Did Fierro have a reason other than the catch-all “parole violation” for pulling over Rodriguez? Certainly a tape would show that.

What about the department procedures regarding so-called “distraction blows?”
The policy seems pretty vague compared to professional standards required by the LAPD and county Sheriff’s Department.

The City Council also needs to be questioned. For too long those who have taken campaign cash from police department sources have done nothing to improve its image.

Those who don’t get the money have been whining for years about public safety.

If there was ever a chance to clean house in El Monte, now’s the time.

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  • el monte law abiding citizen

    it is about time someone informed the public about the corruption of the council members being given large sums of money and then voting them large pensions and etc.

  • In Memory of David Viera

    El Monte Police have been harassing El Monte Residents as far back as I can remember. I first moved to El Monte in 1973, moved out for 7 years and then moved back. I am the sister in law of David Viera. El Monte Police shot him in the back seven times in July 2004. The papers and news made him out to be a gang member when he was not. They made him out to be a violent man and he was not. He was coping in the death of his father and turned to drugs. That was his only crime. EMPD would harass his family including my husband. This happened over many years. One office told David and one of his other brothers that the Viera men would either end up dead or in prison. Out of eight boys, only one has been incarcerated and one is now deceased. I believe that EMPD covered up the shooting. The outcome was “Justifiable Homicide”. It was never reviewed on why he was opened fire like a shooting range. I do believe that internal affairs should get in depth into the EMPD. Don’t get me wrong I do not believe all are bad, but it is the rotten apples that make the whole Dept. look bad. I feel safer living in a complex with gang members than I would being pulled over by El Monte Police. FYI>>>The Mayor of El MOnte has a deceased child that was a gang member. Ex Chief of Police (EMPD) has a son-in-law from the gang “FLORES”. And I am sure that there is more.

  • Old Cop

    This people that bitch and gripe about officers using force on crooks are the same ones who clap and cheer when Steven Segaul(sp)playing a cop in the movies all but kills every crook he comes in contact with. Get over it.

    Anyone who runs from cops on crowded California roads and freeway should be shot and killed. They might as well be pointing a loaded gun at you when they drive in this manner.

    The fine people of El Monte allowed a Chief of police to stay around for 25 years that was one of the most corrupt idiots that ever held that office. Tom Armstrong is a breath of fresh air. Believe me when I say Chief Tom Armstrong is an honest, God fearing man who will deal with any misconduct fairly and as the law prescribes; not as the ACLU or any MSM news Reporter demands.

    Mr. Viera, the only people who ever felt they were Harassed by the El Monte Police were and are crooks. If you are a upstanding person El Monte cops don’t have time to “Harass” you, they are too busy dealing with ^&*holes.