SOUTH WHITTIER >> Hundreds of loved ones, friends and community members marched through South Whittier Friday in a call for justice for the murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Scout Cesar Rodriguez, who was gunned down four years ago along with a friend in a double-slaying that remains unsolved.
Led by a young relatives of Rodriguez carrying his picture and a banner stating, “We want justice,” the group met at Laurel Avenue and Beaty Street before marching through the neighborhood, past the scene of the shooting, and heading to Amelia Mayberry Park for a candlelight vigil.
Rodriguez, 19, was shot to death along with friend Larry Villegas, 24, on Aug. 28, 2011, as they left the home of a friend in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue.
Rodriguez’s loved ones have held the march each year since the double-slaying.
“We’ll be here every year until that person, or persons, come to justice,” Rodriguez’s mother Lupe Rodriguez said. “Cesar will never be forgotten.”
Also marching was Rodriguez’s father, Jorge Rodriguez, as well as brothers George and Hector, along with numerous other family members.
The group came to a stop and stood in silence when the procession reached the driveway where Rodriguez and Villegas were shot. Immediate family members laid flowers and candles at the spot, as dozens of sheriff’s Explorer Scouts stood in a stoic salute.
All along the march route, Explorers handed out fliers seeking information on the unsolved killings, with messages in both English and Spanish.
Lupe Rodriguez said she looks forward to the day when her son’s killer is arrested and the march will no longer be necessary.
But in the meantime, she said she felt encouraged by the strong show of community support.
“I think it gets bigger every year,” she said, adding that she was grateful to the community.
Homicide detectives have been left with few clues to work with, and the case remains unsolved, said Sgt. Michael Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau. The sergeant took part in the march, as he has done each year since the shooting.
“As you can see, the support for Cesar and this investigation has not waned,” he said.
Sgt. Rodriguez said he remains optimistic that he and his fellow investigators will ultimately bring Cesar Rodriguez’s killer or killers to justice.
“This case ha not gone cold,” he said.
Both the investigator and Lupe Garcia said they believe there are people who know who killed Cesar Rodriguez and Villegas, but have yet to come forward. They both implored any such witnesses to do so.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LA CRESCENTA >> Homicide detectives are investigating the death of an elderly man Friday in a La Crescenta home.
Few details were initially available regarding the investigation, which began about 1:30 p.m. in the 3000 block of Frances Avenue.
Detectives responded the scene, “to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suspicious death of a man,” Deputy Sara Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
Deputies first responded to the home after a local resident asked them to “check the welfare” of a neighbor, who had not been seen for several days, Lt. Mohrhoff of the sheriff’s Crescenta Valley Station said.
After discovering the body of a man inside the home, deputies summoned their counterparts in the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau to take over the investigation, Mohrhoff said.
The man, who was in his 70s, appeared to have suffered “blunt force trauma,” according to deputy Trina Schrader.
“The identity of the victim and the cause of death will be determined by the coroner,” Schrader said.
No further information was released. Anyone with information was asked to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to Los Angeles Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
LOS ANGELES >> Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced an investigation into more than a dozen deputies accused of leaving an inmate handcuffed and depriving him of food for 32 hours following a June 19 arrest.
Ten deputies have been relieved of duty and “a number of others” have been reassigned to other duties pending further investigation, officials from the Sheriff’s Information Bureau said in a written statement.
“I expect every member of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to perform at the highest standards of professionalism,” McDonnell said.
“Immediately upon learning of troubling allegations of possible neglect of an inmate at the Inmate Reception Center, my Department’s executives relieved ten jail employees of duty, including supervisors,” the sheriff said. “The investigation into this incident is ongoing and will be thorough. It will not only focus on employee actions, but also on corrective policies and procedures.”
Those relieved of duty include two lieutenants, a sergeant, a senior deputy, four deputies and a two custody assistants, sheriff’s officials said.
The alleged misconduct stem from the arrest of an unidentified inmate who was booked at the Inmate Reception Center June 19.
“Allegations included the inmate not being provided food and being handcuffed for a lengthy period of time following a force incident during which the inmate reportedly assaulted a female deputy,” according to the sheriff’s department statement. “The inmate ate upon entry to the jail, but was allegedly restrained for approximately 32 hours; during that time he received medical attention and a cup of water.”
The inmate filed a complaint June 27, initiating an investigation, officials said. McDonnell learned of the complaint Thursday and placed the involved deputies on leave or reassignment within 24 hours, officials said.
The sheriff’s department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau and Intern Affairs Bureau are looking into the matter, sheriff’s officials said. The Office of the Inspector General and the FBI were also notified of the investigation.
Custody officials at the Inmate Reception Center have been reminded of protocols regarding restraint, checks and feeding of inmates, and additional training was ordered, the sheriff’s department statement said. “Further corrective action is pending.”
“I am deeply committed to providing the highest levels of constitutional care to those in our charge and will quickly address and remedy any conduct, policies or practices that do not meet this expectation and high standard,” McDonnell said.
Further details were not available Saturday.
IRWINDALE >> Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies stood in 24-hour guard Wednesday over the site where fellow deputy David March was fatally shot during a traffic stop 13 years ago.
Afternoon temperatures climbed into the mid-90s as deputies have continued the stoic tradition each year since March was gunned down along Live Oak Avenue, just east of Peck Road, on April 29, 2002.
Sheriff’ Jim McDonnell visited the memorial site to pay his respects.
“These deputies from Temple have taken the time to pay tribute to the life of Deputy David March,” McDonnell said. “This tribute exemplified the belief that’s shared throughout the law enforcement community that we will never forget, and that we want to respect the memory and the sacrifice through the year.”
March, 33, who was assigned to the sheriff’s Temple Station, was fatally shot after pulling over Jorge Arroyo Garcia, also known as Armando Garcia. After being captured in Mexico and extradited back to the U.S., Garcia pleaded guilty to the deputy’s murder in 2007 and received a life sentence in prison.
Two by two, deputies, primarily from the sheriff’s Temple Station, took turns standing half-hour shifts over the spot where March was fatally shot, which is marked with a permanent memorial plaque. After standing frozen in place for 30 minutes, deputies changed guards with a brief ceremony.
ARCADIA >> Community members sought subpoena power, transparency and accountability Wednesday during a town hall meeting to discuss the formation of a new citizen’s oversight committee to oversee the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
“Transparency shouldn’t be dependent on the sheriff’s cooperation,” Evan Bunch of Los Angeles told the working group. “Time and time again, we have seen that the sheriff’s cooperation does not mean transparency.”
Subpoena power would give the committee the right to obtain documents and other information from the sheriff’s department, even when department opposes disclosure.
Paul Jong, a staff attorney for Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, agreed. “Subpoena power is something that is essential for true accountability and transparency,” he said.
The meeting at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden was the sixth in a planned series of nine town hall meetings for residents to offer suggestions on what their believe should be considered to help shape the oversight board, which the supervisors approved late last year in a 3-2 vote.
Throughout the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, cops have been working to brighten the holidays of needy and disadvantaged kids.
Police and California Highway Patrol Officers, as well as Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies, have been busily playing the roles of elves distributing toys, food and cheer to young people in need of some holiday spirit.
The California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have run large-scale toy drives to collect gifts for kids who might otherwise go without this holiday season.
And sheriff’s officials even brought Santa Claus, via helicopter, to meet with kids in Compton Saturday as deputies took them on a special Target shopping trip. Sheriff’s deputies also hosted an annual party Dec. 7 for abused and neglected children.
Police officers from both the Irwindale and Covina police departments have delivered toys to the young patients at the City of Hope in Duarte this month.
Police agencies including those in Whittier and West Covina, as well as some sheriff’s stations, joined Target stores for the “Heroes & Helpers” program, in which officers take needy youths shopping for gifts, officials said.
In La Puente, deputies visited schools and churches and neighborhood to hand out about 300 bags full of groceries Friday, sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said. And more food giveaways are planned this week.
Baldwin Park police attracted an estimated 2,000 kids to their police station Friday as they handed out more than 3,500 toys, according to the Baldwin Park Police Association. And of course, Santa Claus was on-hand as well.
PHOTOS: (top to bottom) 1.)Covina police officials deliver toys to children at the City of Hope in Duarte on Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014. (Courtesy) 2.) Whittier police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014. (Courtesy) 3.) Principal Mona Diaz of Workman Elementary School in La Puente stands in front of a patrol car as Sgt. John Suh unloads bags of groceries to be handed out to families to help out for the holidays on Friday, Dec. 18, 2014. (Courtesy) 4.) Children meet with Santa Claus at the Baldwin Park Police Station as the Baldwin Park Police Association handed out more than 3,500 toys. (Courtesy) 5.) Irwindale police and city officials from Irwindale and La Puente deliver donated toys to City of Hope in Duarte on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. From left to right: La Puente City Councilman David Argudo, Irwindale police Officer Shawn Cory, Irwindale police Officer Diego Cornejo, Irwindale police Detective Jose Vargas, Irwindale police Capt. Ty Henshaw and Irwindale Mayor Mark Breceda. (Courtesy) 6.) West Covina police take children shopping at Target in Whittier as part of the “Heroes & Helpers” program on Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014. (Courtesy)
PICO RIVERA >> Families are invited the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station Saturday as officials once again host their “Haunted Jail” and open house.
The free event will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the station, 6631 Passons Blvd., sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
A “scary and fun-filled day” is in store for guests, complete with lots of decorations along with treats and goodies, according to the statement.
Guests are encouraged to support the station’s holiday food drive by bringing canned goods and other non-perishable items to donate.
The event is being hosted in conjunction with the Pico Rivera Parks and Recreation.
For more information, contact the sheriff’s Pico Rivera Station at 562-949-2421.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> Community members are invited to take part in a neighborhood watch and safety meeting Thursday in South El Monte.
The meeting, hosted by the city of South El Monte and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Monte Vista Elementary School, 11111 Thienes Ave., city officials said in a written statement.
Guests are encouraged to come down to meet with neighbors, as well as learn crime prevention and safety tips, organizers said. Light refreshments will be provided while supplies last.
LA PUENTE — Sheriff’s deputies, in partnership with the City of La Puente and the National Latino Peace Officers Association, is in the process of distributing 100 backpacks full of school supplies to needs students.
The giveaway began last week at Workman Elementary School and Hurley Elementary School, and will continue next week at Sparks Elementary School and Del Valley School, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. and La Puente Police Chief Pete Cacheiro said.
The backpacks and supplies were donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, and were arranged by Explorers from the sheriff’s Industry Station. Sheriff’s officials worked with the schools to identify the students most in need of the supplies.
In addition to putting smiles on children’s faces, the event exemplifies the “Community Oriented Policing” strategy employed in La Puente, fostering trust between young people and law enforcement.
La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz accompanied deputies as they distributed the backpacks at the first two schools.
“In our community, we do have students who need these services,” she said.
Students also got a chance to chat with deputies and sit in their patrol cars.
“How wonderful it is they take the time to build those relationships. They’re very present in the community,” Munoz said. ” They’re going above and beyond and making a big impact in our community by being involved.”
Cacheiro and Munoz both credited community-oriented policing with significant drops in La Puente’s crime rate this year, which is among the lowest in the county.
“The effort that they’ve made in community-oriented policing is something that’s shown a vast improvement,” Munoz said.
PHOTOS: (Top)Sheriff’s deputies, La Puente City Councilwoman Valerie Munoz and students of Workman Elementary School in La Puente pose for a photo after deputies gave them backpacks full of school supplies, donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Below) Deputy Richard Muehlich hands out backpacks full of school supplies, donated by the National Latino Peace Officers Association, to kids at Workman Elementary School in La Puente on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. (Courtesy)
LAKEWOOD >> A sheriff’s deputy was suffered major injuries Friday when he was badly beaten in an unexpected attack at the Lakewood Center shopping mall, authorities said.
Frankie Estrada, 21, was ultimately arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a peace officer following the incident, which unfolded about 8 p.m. at the mall, 500 Lakewood Center Mall, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Reveles said.
Deputies went to the mall to investigate a report of a domestic disturbance between a man and woman, officials said. One deputy located the woman, while the second deputy sought out the man.
“While escorting the man out of the location towards the other deputy, the man unexpectedly turned on the deputy and hit him several times, knocking the deputy to the ground, and continued his assault with a shod foot,” Reveles said in a written statement.
“A bystander in the mall witnessing the assault intervened by pushing the suspect away from the deputy. Assisting deputies arrived, and took the suspect into custody without further incident,” Reveles said.
The deputy was hospitalized in critical-but-stable condition, Reveles said.
Estrada was being held in lieu of $1 million bail, according to county booking records. He was scheduled to appear in Bellflower Superior Court Tuesday for an arraignment hearing.