LOS ANGELES — An off-duty Los Angeles police officer accused of punching another man and breaking his jaw in an unprovoked attack at a Whittier house party has pleaded “no contest” to a misdemeanor charge, authorities said.
Under a negotiated plea agreement during a hearing Monday, Donald Albert Peko, 36, admitted a single count of disturbing the peace, while a count of felony battery was dismissed, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horwitz immediately sentenced Peko to two years of summary probation, Robison said. He was further ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and obey a court order to stay away from the victim, then-23-year-old Christopher Price.
Prosecutors said Peko was attending a family party July 23, 2011, when he told the victim he could not leave the party with an open container of alcohol.
When Price began drinking to finish the bottle, Peko was accused of punching him “without warning,” breaking his jaw, D.A.’s officials said in a written statement.
After an investigation that lasted more than four months, prosecutors filed charges against Peko in December of 2012. Whittier police conducted the investigation.
Peko’s status with the LAPD was unclear Thursday.
“It’s a personnel matter,” CHP Officer Bruce Borihanh of the LAPD’s media relations section said. “We don’t discuss personnel matters.”
In general, he added, a police officer convicted of a crime is kept off of patrol duties until an administrative hearing is held to make a determination regarding employment.
NORTHRIDGE — A Canoga Park man and a Northridge woman died late Wednesday following a crash involving three vehicles and three pedestrians, authorities said.
The double-fatal crash took place about 8 p.m. at Tampa Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard, according to Officer Gonzalez of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic Division. She declined to give her first name.
Killed were Jasmine Dubon, 19, of Northridge, who was a pedestrian standing at the corner when she was struck by an out-of-control pickup truck, as well as the driver of the truck, identified by the LAPD as 24-year-old Pablo Castaneda of Canoga Park, LAPD officials said. Authorities initially described Dubon as a Rosemead resident.
Just prior to the collision, Castaneda was driving a 2007 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck “at a high rate of speed northbound on Tampa Avenue,” she said.
The truck collided with a Ford E-350 van being driven by an 88-year-old man who was making a left turn from southbound Tampa Avenue onto eastbound Roscoe Boulevard, Gonzales said.
“The Tacoma went out of control toward the northeast corner of the intersection,” the officer said. The truck struck three pedestrians, ranging in age from 19 to 20, where were standing on the sidewalk.
Second later, Gonzalez said, a Nissan Maxima came upon the scene of the crash and struck the disabled van, causing it to overturn.
Dubon and Castaneda were taken to an area hospital where they succumbed to their injuries a short time later, officials said.
The two other drivers and two other pedestrians injured in the collision were hospitalized with injuries ranging from moderate to serious, Gonzales said.
The cause of the crash was under investigation by officers from the LAPD’s Valley Traffic Division.
PHOTO by Gene Blevins/Special to the Los Angeles Daily News
LA HABRA — Los Angeles police investigating a triple-fatal shooting in Harbor Gateway arrested a man at his La Habra apartment on suspicion of the crime late Friday, officials confirmed Saturday.
Narada Brooks, 28, was booked on suspicion of murder, LAPD Officer Sara Faden said.
Though the investigation was ongoing, “detectives believe he was the sole individual responsible,” Faden said.
Killed in the shooting were Dwayne Damion Cover, 33, of Torrance, Laurent Kenroy Latty, 33, of Joneboro, Georgia and a third man whose identity was not released Saturday pending confirmation that his family had been notified, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Investigator Joyce Kato said.
LAPD investigators arrived in La Habra about 6 p.m. Friday and took a suspect — later identified as Brooks — into custody without a struggle about 8:30 p.m. at an apartment in the 900 block of North Euclid Street, La Habra police Sgt. Jeff Bayloss said.
The LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division detectives were following up on an early-morning shooting in the Harbor Gateway portion of Los Angeles that left three men dead and a fourth wounded.
The shooting took place about 5:30 a.m. in an apartment in the 1600 block of West 205th Street, Faden said.
Three men appearing to be in their 20s were found fatally shot, Faden said.
A fourth shooting wounded man, who appeared to be in his 30s, was found shot a few blocks away and hospitalized, she said. An update on his condition was not available.
No further details regarding the circumstances of the shooting were released.
According to county booking records, Brooks was being held without bail pending his initial court appearance.
EL MONTE — Officials found and removed a large graffiti message cursing the Los Angeles Police Department was believed to have been inspired by the recent manhunt for former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, authorities said.
The spray-painted graffiti was first reported about 10:30 a.m. on a wall surrounding a home in the 4800 block of Dyson Street, at Lower Azusa Road, El Monte police Cpl. Aram Choe said.
“The graffiti was approximately three feet tall, and it was critical of the Los Angeles Police Department,” the corporal said. He estimated the message was about 6 feet wide.
It read, “(expletive) LAPD,” officials said.
Investigators suspected the graffiti was scrawled by a “Dorner supporter” in response to the recent manhunt, and ultimate killing, of quadruple-murder suspect and ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, Choe said.
Dorner wrote in an online manifesto that he was engaging in a war against his former colleagues in law enforcement in retaliation for his termination from the LAPD in early 2009.
Before he was ultimately tracked to a cabin near Big Bear, where his body was found following a lengthy gun battle and massive fire, Dorner killed Cal State University Fullerton assistant basketball coach Monica Quan, 28, and her 27-year-old fiancee, Keith Lawrence, near their Irvine home, authorities said.
In the 10 days that followed, he went on to fatally shoot a Riverside police officer and a San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy as law enforcement agencies throughout Southern California mobilized to hunt for Dorner, officials said. Another Riverside police officer and another San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy were seriously wounded by Dorner’s gunfire.
Riverside police have released the name of a 34-year-old police officer and former Marine allegedly shot to death by Christopher Dorner early Wednesday in Riverside.
“Wednesday we are going to lay to rest, for the final time, our brother… Michael Crain,” Riverside Police Chief said Sunday at a news conference in Los Angeles.
The 34-year-old officer was an 11-year veteran of the department was also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, the chief said.
Citing safety concerns, Diaz continued to withhold the name of the officer who was seriously wounded, but survived the alleged attack by Dorner.
A funeral for Crain is scheduled from 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at at the Grove Community Church in Riverside, to be followed immediately by internment at the Riverside National Cemetery.
Officials are planning extra security measures for the services.
The Transportation Security Agency has cautioned those in the aviation industry to be vigilant as the search for Christopher Dorner — a former LAPD officer and Navy reservist believed to have flight training — continues.
A security advisory distributed to airports and pilots by the federal agency warned that Dorner was believed to have received flight training while in the Navy, “but the extent of his potential flying skills is unknown.”
The elusive triple-murder suspect has already travelled hundreds of miles across Southern California in his week long crime-spree, and tried unsuccessfully to steal a boat in San Diego late Wednesday.
“While there is no specific information at this time that Dorner is considering using general aviation, TSA requests that operators use an increased level of awareness concerning any suspicious activity during the coming days,” according to the TSA alert.
Suggested precautions included securing unattended aircraft, verifying cargo and passengers, keeping an eye out for unknown pilots or personnel, watching out for altered or inconsistent identification and being aware of anyone persons “who appear tu be under stress or the control of other persons.”
The TSA requested any aircraft thefts be reported immediately, and any suspicious activity reported to local law enforcement as well as the TSA.
LOS ANGELES — Officials this afternoon plan to announce a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Christopher Dorner.
More information will be released at a 1 p.m. news conference at Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, according to a written statement from the multi-agency task force formed to pursue Dorner.
Police and other officials from Los Angeles, Irvine, Riverside, the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service are expected.
Meanwhile in Big Bear, where Dorner’s disabled truck was found loaded with weapons and survival gear Thursday morning, day four of the tireless manhunt was gearing up to resume the search, but with half as many personnel as in previous days.
A scaled-down search effort continued with 50 officers, including SWAT team members combing the wooded area behind the resort where Dorner’s burned out truck was discovered Thursday, according to sheriff’s officials.
The smaller number of searchers is not an indication authorities believe Dorner is not in the mountain area, according to Cindy Bachman, spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, but that a smaller area is left to be searched.
At the peak of the manhunt, more than 100 officers and authorities were in the snow-covered community searching for the fugitive.
San Bernardino County Sheriff’s authorities moved the command post which for the last three days had been at the Bear Mountain Ski resort to the Big Bear sheriff’s station.
Temperatures dropped to 5 degrees in Big Bear Lake over he weekend.
Anyone with information on Dorner’s whereabouts was asked to contact the task force at 213-486-6860. Tips may also be submitted anonymously by calling L.A. Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
– Brian Day and Beatriz Valenzuela
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck sat down for an interview with with CBS Saturday afternoon in which he announced he would take another look at the case of Christopher Dorner’s dismissal.
He said the move was solely to encourage public trust in the department.
“Dorner’s allegations are about a police department that doesn’t treat African Americans fairly, and I don’t think that’s true,” the chief said. “And I want to make sure we don’t lose this precious ground we’ve gained.”
“That’s the totality of the reason I will look at this investigation again. More important than the Dorner aspect is the community aspect. I’m not doing this to appease Dorner,” he said.
“It’s about restoring faith,” Beck added. “I worry whenever faith in the police department is eroded.”
Beck also used the interview to apologize to the two women mistakenly shot and wounded by LAPD officers early Thursday in Torrance while guarding one of the possible targets mentioned in Dorner’s manifesto.
“I want people to understand that this is a far different situation than police officers usually face,” Beck said.
“I publicly apologize for what happened,” he said. “They were truly innocent. When innocents are injured, nothing affects me more greatly.”
BIG BEAR — The massive search for accused triple-murderer Christopher Dorner picked up again Saturday morning in Big Bear under sunny skies after more than a foot of snowfall blanketed the area overnight.
There were no reported sightings of the police- and military-trained suspect, who has now been embarking on his self-proclaimed vendetta against law enforcement for nearly a week.
Though more than 100 personnel continued combing the ski resort town at a 7,000-foot elevation with help from a sheriff’s helicopter with forward-looking infrared optics allowing the operators to see body heat underground, speculation grew among residents and officials that Dorner may no longer be in the area.
But the weather cooperated with searchers much better Saturday then Friday, as a storm that dropped 14 inches of snow on Big Bear moved out of the area.
“We’re done with the precipitation,” said Robert Balfour of the National Weather Service in San Diego. “(That will be replaced by) dry, cold frosty mornings and then probably around Monday, Tuesday looking at some wind out of the northeast. Basically, our normal winter dry pattern: more sunshine, warmer daytime temperatures, still cold at night.”
After showing up in Irvine, San Diego, Corona and Riverside, the manhunt focus of the manhunt shifted to Big Bear Thursday after Dorner’s pickup truck was found abandoned and set afire near the Bear Mountain ski resort. But there have been no confirmed sighting of him on the mountain since.
The Nissan Titan was processed and being turned over to the Irvine Police Department, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Cindy Bachman said Friday.
Irvine police released no information Saturday regarding the contents or condition of the scorched truck, or whether investigators developed any leads from it.
Numerous unsubsantiated reports of Dorner sightings were called into police throughout the Southland Thursday and Friday.
Dorner is suspected of fatally shooting an engaged couple, whose bodies were discovered Sunday near their Irvine home, according to Irvine police. The bodies of Monica Quan, 28, and her fiance Keith Lawrence, 27, in a car near their Irvine home.
On Wednesday, as police expanded their manhunt and protected potential targets listed in Dorner’s lengthy online manifesto, Dorner allegedly shot and killed a Riverside police officer in Riverside and seriously wounding another.
The fatal wounding of the police officer took place only minutes after he opened fire on two LAPD officers in Corona, authorities said.
Dorner, a former Naval reservist, cited his termination from the LAPD in early 2009 for his rage at law enforcement, and in partuclar, the LAPD. He claimed in his manifesto he was unjustly fired for reporting excessive force on the part of his training officer, and the termination ruined his life.
He further wrote that he is heavily armed with weapons invluding a .50-caliber sniper rifle and sholder-fired missiles, and prepared to use them against authorities who come after him.
Accused triple-murderer and fugitive Christopher Dorner, who has dominated news headlines in recent days as an intense search for him has spanned California and beyond, was featured in an Oklahoma newspaper in a much more positive light in 2002.
An news story originally written in 2002 and re-published on Indenes.com Friday gives an account of the suspect and another man finding a bank bag containing nearly $8,000 and immediately turning it in to police.
Dorner, who was in the Navy, and the other good Samaritan, a Marine, were both students at Vance Air Force Base at the time, the news agency reported.
They were reportedly driving into town Nov. 2, 2002, when they spotted a bank bag in the middle of the street.
Inside they discovered $7,792 in cash and checks that belonged to a local church, and promptly brought the money to the police department.
“The military stresses integrity,” Dorner told EnidNews.com. “There was a couple of thousand dollars, and if people are willing to give that to a church, it must be pretty important to them.”
“I didn’t work for it, so it’s not mine. And it was for the church,” he added. “It’s not so much the integrity, but it was someone else’s money. I would hope someone would do that for me.”
Original story in EnidNews.com