WHITTIER — A former Fullerton police officer charged in connection with the beating death of a mentally ill homeless man was involved in the rescue of a choking diner at a Whittier pizza parlor over the weekend, according to witnesses and officials.
Ex-Fullerton Police Department corporal Jay Cicinelli, along with another man, sprung into action to help a man who was choking on a piece of pizza Sunday at That’s Amore, 11223, First Avenue in Whittier, according to the 43-year-old choking victim, Luis Vargas of La Mirada.
“Had I not gotten the help of these two men, honestly, I think I would have been done,” Vargas said. “It was the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my entire life.”
Vargas was dining at the restaurant with Cicinelli and other parents and coaches from a local little league when he began to choke. The team was celebrating a tournament victory.
“We were laughing. Before I knew it, I had that piece of pizza stuck in my throat,” Vargas said. “Honestly, I thought I was done. I did not see it getting dislodged.”
But Cicinelli immediately sprung into action, team manager Dan Garcia said.
“Cicinelli asked him, ‘can you breathe?’ He shook his head ‘no.’ He asked, ‘Do you need the Heimlich?’ He shook his head ‘yes.’”
Cicinelli administered nine to ten thrusts to Vargas’ abdomen, before another team parent, Rich Murphy, also joined in in performing the Heimlich maneuver on the choking man, who was turning blue.”
“All of a sudden, I could breathe again,” Vargas said.
Vargas said his 10-year-old son and wife witnessed his near choking and rescue.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Miguel Ornelas said paramedics responded to the restaurant, but quickly cleared the scene after determining their aid was no longer needed.
Vargas said he was feeling better Wednesday. “My lungs are still sore,” he said. “Every time I eat, I think about it.”
Cicinelli is one of three former Fullerton police officer facing criminal charges in connection with the fatal July 7, 2011 beating of 37-year-old Kelly Thomas. The former officers are free on bail pending trial.
Cicinelli is charged with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force in connection with the case, according to Orange County District Attorney’s officials. Co-defendant and former officer Manuel Ramos is charged with second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter in connection with Thomas’ death.
Another former officer, Joseph Wolfe, has been charged separately with involuntary manslaughter and excessive force in the case.
WHITTIER — Police are inviting the public to meet with officers over a cup of coffee at a “Coffee with a Cop” event later this month.
The gathering will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Nov. 14 at the Coffee Bean and Tea lead, 7201 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“This program is designed to help law enforcement agencies connect with the community they serve and protect,” police said in a written statement. “During the event, citizens will have an opportunity to meet with officers and ask questions or express their concerns over a friendly cup of coffee.”
For more information, the Whittier Police Department can be reached at 562-567-9200.
WHITTIER — One man was stabbed while another man was hit with a two-by-four during confrontation on the Greenway Trail Friday night.
But police still have to determine who was the attacker after the men told conflicting accounts.
The incident took place on the trail between Laurel Avenue and Painter Avenue.
Whittier Police Lt. Steven Dean said a man called 9-1-1 at 9:20 p.m. and said he was walking on the trail when a man approached and stabbed him. The caller asked for medical help but didn’t want to do anything about his alleged assailant, according to Dean.
Then a man who was en route to a local hospital called police. He claimed another man hit him with a two-by-four and he stabbed that person in self defense, Dean said . The man thought he had broken ribs.
The lieutenant said the man who was stabbed ended up with a cut to his rib cage and left wrist. He was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood.
“He admits hitting the guy with a stick,” Dean said.
- Ruby Gonzales
WHITTIER — A 69-year-old Whittier man badly injured in hit-and-run crash early this week died Thursday, authorities said.
Gregory Reyes died about 8:10 p.m. Thursday from injuries he suffered when he was struck by an SUV while using his walker to cross the 7000 block of Greeneleaf Avenue about 6:40 p.m. Monday, Whittier police and Los Angeles County Department of Coroner’s officials said.
Isaiah Storey, 25, of Whittier fled from the scene following the collision without stopping to help, Whittier police Lt. Jay Tatman said.
Police found his SUV parked near Greeneleaf Avenue and Hadley Street and arrested Storey early Tuesday, officials said.
He was released from police custody later in the day of his arrest after posting $50,000 bail, according to Los Angeles County booking records.
Whittier police will join countless law enforcement agencies nationwide Saturday in collecting unwanted prescription drugs.
The department is taking part in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s 7th Take-Back Initiative from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Whittier City Hall, 13230 Penn Street, Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
Unwanted prescription drugs may be dropped off free of charge and with no questions asked. Syringes will not be accepted.
The purpose of the event is, “to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs,” according to the police statement.
“This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue,” police added. “Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse.”
WHITTIER — A 19-year-old West Covina man died late Thursday following a shooting along Pickering Avenue, authorities said.
Vincent Provencio died at PIH Health Hospital in Whittier 20 minutes after the shooting, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Assistant Chief of Operations Ed Winter said.
Whittier Police Lt. Steven Dean said the station received a call at 9:56 p.m. of shots being fired in the 6200 block of Pickering Avenue.
“When officers arrived, they were told an argument ensued between two males,” Officer Bradley White said. “The 19-year-old was shot during the argument.”
Provencio suffered a single gunshot wound to his chest, White said. But he had already been taken to PIH Health Hospital in Whittier by a good Samaritan.
“A passer-by saw a wounded man, picked him up and rushed him to the hospital.” White said.
But despite the efforts of the good Samaritan and doctors, the wounded man succumbed to his injuries at 10:16 p.m., Winter said.
No suspect description was available Friday, White said, and it was not clear what the argument that preceded the shooting was about.
“Our investigators are out canvassing the area for witnesses,” White added.
Anyone with information was asked to call Whittier police at 562-567-9200.
NORWALK — A judge sentenced a Los Angeles man to 40 years to life in prison Thursday for the slaying of a West Covina man, who was shot to death and robbed along with his cousin and friend when the men went to buy a car in South Whittier nearly a decade ago.
A Norwalk Superior Court jury convicted Briall Lee, 31, in August of second-degree murder, as well as the special sentence-enhancing allegation that he used a gun in the crime, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s and court officials said. He received the sentence from Judge Robert Higa.
Lee was found guilty of the Jan. 27, 2004, slaying of 23-year-old Mario Larios.
Larios, his cousin Edgar Valles, 22, of La Puente, and their friend Fernando Pina, 25, of Mexico, were also gunned down during the robbery, which took place at the South Whittier home of Lee’s co-defendant, 39-year-old Cimarron Bell.
The victims were shot to death when they met with Lee and Bell to talk about a Chevrolet Monte Carlo they were offering for sale for $8,5000.
Bell was convicted of killing all three victims, as well as his girlfriend Ineka Edmondson, 22, of Compton in an unrelated slaying in La Habra in November of 2003. He was sentenced to death in August of 2011.
Quadruple murderer sentence to death (Cimarron Bell)
Briall Lee conviction
WHITTIER — A man suffered a severe injuries and may lose a hand after he was shocked while allegedly trying to steal wiring from an abandoned juvenile hall facility in Whittier early Saturday, authorities said. The incident was the second time this week an accused wire thief has been badly shocked in the Whittier area.
The incident took place about 5 a.m. at the Fred C. Nelles Youth Correction Facility site, 11850 Whittier Blvd., California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The injured suspect, a Downey man in his 50s, was expected to survive but suffered severe burns to both hands, CHP Sgt. Charles Quijada said. “Last we heard, he may lose a hand.”
The man’s name was not available Saturday as he remained hospitalized.
Whittier police first responded to the facility and discovered the man in an electrical room toward the rear of the campus, which it appeared he had broken into, Quijada said. Panels had been removed from an electrical vault, wires had been cut and tools were found near the injured man.
He was expected to face burglary charges once his medical condition improved.
The value of the damage done to the facility was still being ascertained, Quijada added.
Whittier police turned the investigation over to the CHP, which patrols state facilities.
Last weekend, another man suffered major burned and was hospitalized in critical condition after receiving a 12,000-volt shock while trying to steal wiring from a Southern California Edison site in the 9900 block of Beverly Boulevard in Pico Rivera, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Smith.
Billy Ray Owens, 51, of Whittier was discovered badly burned next to a pair of bolt cutters and a large piece of electrical equipment shortly before 5 a.m. Sunday, Smith said. The incident briefly shut off power for more than 20,000 SCE customers in Pico Rivera and unincorporated Whittier and caused an estimated $45,000 worth of damage to the equipment, officials said.
WHITTIER — Whittier police this week announced the department has received a grant of more than $96,000
from the California Office of Traffic Safety to hold sobriety checkpoints.
The grant comes on the heels of another $93,000 grant from the California OTS announced Tuesday to fund special traffic enforcement and crash prevention operations.
“The special DUI Checkpoint grant is to assist in efforts to reduce the number of persons killed and injured in alcohol and other drug related collisions in the community,” Whittier police officials said in a written statement. “The grant activities will specifically target impaired driving offenders as well as educating the public on the dangers of impaired driving through the use of DUI/driver’s license checkpoints.”
Funding for the grant was provided through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For more information, contact Whittier police Sgt. Rob Hanson at 562-567-9256.
UPDATE: No burglary charges were filed against Michael Sanchez prior to his court appearance Monday due to insufficient evidence, according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was held in custody until Wednesday, however, before being released with “time served” in connection with an unrelated case out of Antelope Valley Superior Court, records show.
SANTA FE SPRINGS — Deputies arrested a man they had been seeking in connection with a burglary investigation Thursday with help from a tipster, officials said.
Michael Anthony Sanchez, 22, was arrested on suspicion of two counts of burglary stemming from two break-ins in an unincorporated county area near Whittier, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Authorities released Sanchez’s photo and asked the public’s help in tracking him down Sept. 17. He was described as a homeless man who had recently been spotted in the Creek Park area of La Mirada, though he was also believed to have ties to Pico Rivera and the Antelope Valley.
Acting on a tip from the public, deputies from the sheriff’s Norwalk Station found and arrested Sanchez about 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Santa Fe Springs, sheriff’s officials said.
According to county booking records, Sanchez was being in held in lieu of $20,000 bail at the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles pending a scheduled arraignment Monday in Downey Superior Court.