A suspect in a fatal 2010 shooting in Baldwin Park who has been sought since he was accidentally released from sheriff’s custody last year due to a clerical error as he was awaiting trial was re-captured Wednesday in Mexico, authorities said.
Johnny Mata, 33, was awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of 34-year-old David Anthony Deanda on Christmas Eve of 2010 in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue, authorities said at the time. The slaying was believed to be gang related.
Sheriff’s officials launched a manhunt and asked the public’s help to recapture Mata in the weeks following Mata’s erroneous release. And they developed leads indicating he had fled to Mexico, likely near the San Ysidro border crossing, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Burau said in a written statement.
“On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, suspect Mata was located, detained and escorted by Mexican authorities to the United States-Mexico border, San Ysidro port of entry, where LASD personnel took custody of him,” Navarro-Suarez said. “Suspect Mata was re-booked into the Los Angeles County Jail system and is being held in lieu of $2,065,000 bail.”
El Monte police initially arrested Mata in connection with the 2010 Baldwin Park slaying on May 25, 2012, after he ran from a stolen car, according to El Monte police Lt. David Vautrin.
But Mata was accidentally released from the inmate processing unit at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles on April 4, 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The mistake stemmed from a clerical error, then-sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. A clerk failed to order Mata held pending his murder trial after a charge of attempted murder was dismissed.
Wednesday arrest came after a coalition Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies, U.S. Marshals Service officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials determined Mata’s whereabouts in Mexico, according to Navarro-Suarez said.
According to county booking records, Mata was scheduled to appear Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.
PHOTO of murder suspect Johnny Mata, 33, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
LOS ANGELES — A judge Wednesday ruled there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial in the case of a former Baldwin Park police officer charged with filing a false police report in connection with a 2013 drug arrest.
Matthew DeHoog was ordered back to court April 16 for an arraignment hearing following Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
He pleaded not guilty in February to a charge of filing a false police report, officials said. The charge stems from an arrest he made July 31, 2013. But further details regarding the allegations against the officer were not available.
Baldwin Park Police Chief Michael Taylor said DeHoog’s employment with the Baldwin Park Police Department ended in January. However the chief said privacy law prevented him from saying wither DeHoog resigned or was terminated.
DeHoog remains free on his own recognizance pending trial. If convicted as charged, he faces up to three years in state prison.
BALDWIN PARK — A police officer shot a dog, wounding it the foot, after it charged toward a fellow officer late Tuesday, officials said.
The incident unfolded about 11 p.m. as two officers were responding to an unrelated report of a disturbance in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue, just west of Frazier Street, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Darryl Kosaka said.
“A dog came after one of the officers,” he said. “A second officer, to prevent the dog from biting the one officer, fired two shots. One hit (the dog) in the foot.”
No officers were hurt.
Police found the dog’s owners and turned the animal over to them for any veterinary treatment, Kosaka said.
Police described the animal as a “large dog,” however the breed was not available Wednesday afternoon.
LOS ANGELES >> Prosecutors Thursday filed a felony charge against a former Baldwin Park police officer accused of filing a false police report related to a drug arrest last year.
Matthew DeHoog, 29, pleaded not guilty to a count of filing a false report in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. Judge Renee Korn ordered him released on his own recognizance pending his next court appearance.
“DeHoog wrote a false police report about a July 31, 2013, incident where a man was arrested for investigation of possession of methamphetamine,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
The criminal complaint filed against DeHoog alleges that, while working as a police officer, he filed a report regarding the commission and investigation of a crime, “and knowingly and intentionally included a statement and statements regarding a material matter which the defendant knew to be false.”
But further details regarding the alleged false police report, including the identity of the man who was arrested, were not available.
“We’re not releasing any more facts of the case,” district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said. “They’ll be released during the (preliminary hearing).”
The case was investigated by DeHoog’s former colleagues at the Baldwin Park Police Department. But police also declined to discuss the circumstances of the case.
“He’s a former police officer with our department and he’s no longer employed by us,” Baldwin Park Police Chief Michael Taylor said.
DeHoog’s employment with the department ended in early January, Taylor said.
The chief said he had no further comment regarding the allegations against the former officer, or the case filed Thursday by the district attorney’s office.
“It’s unfortunate when anything like this happens in the law enforcement community,” Taylor said.
DeHoog was ordered to return to court March 4 for a preliminary hearing setting, Risling said.
DeHoog could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Under state law, DeHoog faces up to three years in prison if convicted as charged.
The July, 2013, incident was not DeHoog’s first time being involved in a controversial arrest.
He, along with two other Baldwin Park police officers, arrested then-city councilman Anthony Bejarano on suspicion of being drunk in public.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office ultimately declined to file any charge against Bejarano, and the former councilman filed a personnel complaint against his arresting officers. He denied he was drunk or uncooperative, as was stated in the officers’ report.
An internal department review into the situation was conducted and completed, though the results were never made public, as then-police chief Lili Hadsell said the issue was a confidential personnel matter.
BALDWIN PARK — Coroner’s officials have identified a 43-year-old Temple City man found fatally shot on a Baldwin Park sidewalk over the weekend.
Steven Contreras was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after he was found wounded by a passer-by about 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Whitesell Street and Virginia Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
He had been shot several times in the upper torso, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
No information regarding a motive or a suspect was available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Hernandez at the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.
BALDWIN PARK — A man died following a shooting in Baldwin Park late Saturday, however little information was available.
The shooting was reported about 7:30 p.m. in at Whitesell Street and Virginia Avenue, in a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood, Deputy Crystal Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Police received calls reporting both “shots fired” and a “man down” when they came upon the wounded man lying outdoors, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joe Meister said.
No information regarding a possible suspect was available.
The victim, described initially only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he died from his wounds, Hernandez said.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting was released Sunday, and coroner’s officials were yet to identify the dead man.
Immigrant rights activists and upset family members gathered Sunday in Baldwin Park to express outrage over the arrests of 37 people during an overnight sobriety and drivers’ license checkpoints.
Dozens of demonstrators, some carrying signs with slogans such as “driving is not a crime,” demanded answers from Baldwin Park police over what they called a round-up of undocumented immigrants.
But police said the arrests were the result of recent changes in policies regarding what types of identification the court will accept when police issue a misdemeanor citation, such as one for driving without a license. And officials maintained that such checkpoints are a valuable took in combatting intoxicated driving.
Tearful children were taken into the custody of county officials as parents were arrested during the checkpoint, said Debbie Leance, a volunteer with Inland Empire Rapid Response Network. The majority, she said, were arrested only for driving without a license. One video shot by the demonstrators depicted a girl crying while explaining that the police were taking her mother away, “Because she’s not from here.”
“It’s such a large roundup. It’s unprecedented,” Leance said. It’s so unnecessary. That seems like a federal agenda.”
Activists and family members of those arrested waited outside the police station for them to go through the booking process and be released from custody.
Baldwin Park police Captain David Reynoso said 37 drivers were arrested at the checkpoint “for a variety of reasons, including DUI.”
Three drivers were arrested for intoxicated driving during the checkpoint, and three others were arrested for other DUI-related offenses, such as driving without a court-ordered ignition interlock device.
A full tally of the booking charges from the checkpoint was not available Sunday, he said.
The checkpoints were held between 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, the captain said. Officers first set up a checkpoint at Los Angeles and Littlejohn streets before moving it later in the night to Ramona Boulevard and Barnes Avenue.
“The checkpoint was properly posted,” Reynoso said, adding that advance notice was given.
Those arrested for driving without a license also had no valid identification with them, Reynoso said.
Changes in the types of identification being accepted by the West Covina Superior Court in recent months mean officers are no longer able to accept some forms of identification, such as Matricula Consular identification, when issuing misdemeanor citations, Reynoso said.
As a result, when officers encounter unlicensed drivers who do not have valid identification, police must take them to arrest them and book them at police station in order to confirm their identities before issuing a citation.
A checkpoint held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in nearby La Puente on the night of Dec. 21 and 22 netted 78 arrests, 56 of them for driving without a valid license, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
But a checkpoint held by Arcadia police late Saturday and early Sunday resulted in three DUI arrests, six citations for driving without a valid license and three one-day vehicle impounds, according to Arcadia police Traffic Sgt. Brett Bourgeous.
While driving is not a crime, as protest signs stated, “Driving without a license is against the law,” Reynoso said.
“The whole purpose for this checkpoint is public safety,” Reynoso said. “We understand that this could create a hardship, but it only takes one impaired driver to change a family’s life forever.
Ivan Gonzales, 25, of Baldwin Park said his girlfriend was crying and shaking when taken to hail in handcuffs for failing to have a valid drivers license and identification.
“She’s never been arrested. Not even a ticket,” he said.
Fourteen hours after her arrest, Gonzalez said neither he nor his girlfriend’s family had heard from her as they continued awaiting her release.
Justice for Immigrants Coalition legal coordinator J. Daniel Guzman said police failed to release some vehicles to licensed drivers with the owners’ permission at the checkpoint, as mandated by a state law that took effect in 2012.
But Reynoso said officers released 12 cars that were being driven by unlicensed drivers to other drivers who with valid licenses.
Despite the new law regarding police impounds at checkpoints, a separate law governs vehicle impounds in cases in which the driver is arrested, Reynoso said.
BALDWIN PARK — Two men with a handgun robbed a Baldwin Park man Friday afternoon as he walked along Maine Avenue, officials said.
The victim, a man in his early-50s, was on his way to a nearby barbershop about 5:45 p.m. when he was approached by two men along Maine Avenue near Scott Place, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Melissa Stehly said.
One of the men brandished a handgun as the suspects demanded money, she said. The victim turned over his wallet, which contained between $15 and $30. The robbers then ran off, and the victim was not injured.
Police described the robbers at Latino men between 25 and 30 years old, both with shaved heads and wearing white T-shirts.
BALDWIN PARK — A teenage boy and a woman were behind bars Sunday on suspicion of robbing a local attorney of his wallet at a Starbucks coffee shop before he chased after them and got it back.
Sandra Lopez, 20, of La Puente and a 16-year-old La Puente boy, whose name was withheld due to his age, were arrested on suspicion of robbery several hours after Saturday’s 9:50 a.m. incident at the Starbucks on Baldwin Park Boulevard, just south of Francisquito Avenue, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Mike Hemenway said.
Paul Cook, 31, a lawyer and local activist known to many as “The Boxing Lawyer,” said he was sitting at a table paying bills online with his computer prior to the crime. His wallet was on the table, within arms reach.
“I saw (the teen) snatch my wallet,” he said. “I remember my thought so clearly. It was, ‘Oh, hell no.’”
Cook said he kicked off the flip-flops he was wearing and chased after the thief barefoot as he fled with the stolen wallet. The teen ran toward a nearby car, with a woman waiting at the wheel.
“The suspects didn’t expect me to run so fast,” Cook said. In addition to being an amateur boxer, “I run 7 miles every other day.”
Cook reached the car and reached through the passenger window to grab hold of his wallet, which the teen robber was still clutching, he said. The boy ultimately released the wallet while telling the female driver to “Go, go.”
Cook said he, as well as another customer of the Starbucks, managed to get the license plate number of the fleeing car to report to police.
Officers quickly responded within minutes and tracked the suspects down within hours.
Officers found and arrested Lopez and the boy about 4 p.m. Saturday at a home in the 15000 block of Valley Boulevard in Industry, according to police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“I’m very grateful from the bottom of my heart to the Baldwin Park Police Department for their dedication and compassion,” Cook said. “I’m impressed.”
And the coffee shop provided him with a free Caramel Frappuccino as he dealt with the police, he added.
According to county booking records, Lopez was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending her scheduled arraignment Tuesday in West Covina Superior Court.
BALDWIN PARK — Four people were injured, including a child who was flown by helicopter to a trauma center, following a fiery multi-vehicle wreck on the 605 Freeway in Baldwin Park Friday, authorities said.
The crash took place about 6:30 p.m. on the southbound 605 Freeway, just south of Ramona Boulevard, California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
Witnesses called 9-1-1 to report several cars had collided, and a pickup truck had “exploded” into flames with a person trapped inside, according to CHP logs.
Bystanders pulled the trapped person from the burning truck prior the arrival of rescuers, according to fire officials and CHP logs.
Officials shut down both directions of the 605 Freeway as they landed a helicopter to rush one of the patient to the hospital, CHP Officer Ed Jacobs said.
The person flown to the hospital was initially described only as a juvenile, according to fire Dispatch Supervisor Bernard Peters.
Two adults were hospitalized via ambulance with major injuries, Peters said, and a third adult was treated for injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
A total of five cars were involved in the collision, Jacobs said. The cause of the crash was being investigation by officers from the Baldwin Park office of the CHP.