LOS ANGELES >> When Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig learned that a West Covina police officer who returned to duty last month after being wounded in a gunfight in May received was among dozens of law enforcement officers honored during the Dodgers home game Wednesday during Law Enforcement Appreciation Night, he decided he needed to seek out the officer.
Officer Kenny Benitez, a Dodger fan who lists Puig among his favorite players, was part of a group of officers honored on the field for heroism.
“Puig had heard about Officer Benitez and this incident,” West Covina police Lt. Dennis Patton said.
Upon hearing that the officer was taking part in the ceremony, “Puig took it upon himself to search out Benitez,” according to the lieutenant.
The officer and the player met and took photos before each returned to their respective duties. Puig would go on to hit a three-run homer and an impressive catch, run against the San Francisco Giants, helping his team achieve a 9-3 victory.
Patton said the police department appreciated Puig’s personal gesture to Officer Benitez.
Benitez was allegedly wounded during a gunfight with Jose Chavez, 47, on May 20. Chavez was also wounded in the gun battle, but managed to escape.
He was apprehended by a SWAT team following a six-day manhunt and is now awaiting trial.
Benitez was fortunate in that the bullet that penetrated his abdomen did not strike any vital organs, West Covina Police Chief David Faulkner said at the time.
Benitez recovered from his injuries and returned to duty Aug. 18.
SIERRA MADRE >> Police on Thursday announced the arrest of a Sierra Madre man accused of possessing child pornography.
Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Juvenile Division, Internet Crimes Against Children Unit arrested Victor Alexander Randall, 38, about 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to Sierra Madre police and Los Angeles County booking records.
“Investigators initiated the investigation after receiving reports from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” Sierra Madre police Sgt. Joe Ortiz said in a written statement.
After being booked at the LAPS’s 77th Street Station jail, Randal was released from custody the same day he was arrested after posting $20,000 bail, records show.
Further details regarding the allegations against Randall were not available Thursday.
He’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
LA PUENTE >> Deputies arrested a suspected gang member with a handgun following a pursuit through La Puente in a stolen car on Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
A deputy patrolling in the area of Valley Boulevard and Ferrero Lane spotted a Toyota Camry which had been reported stolen in Baldwin Park earlier this month driving down the road, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Pete Cacheiro said.
The driver refused to pull over, initiating a short chase along surface streets that ended when the driver abandoned the car and ran on nearby Wegman Drive, the lieutenant said.
Deputies nabbed the suspect as he fled through a residential neighborhood, he added. He was arrested without further struggle.
Retracing the suspect steps, deputies found a handgun, as well as a shirt and baseball cap the fleeing suspect had apparently discarded in an attempt to change his appearance, Cacheiro said.
The identity of the suspect, a man estimated to be in his early-30s, was not released Thursday as detectives continued their investigation into the man, he added. The suspect was believed to have gang ties.
PHOTO – courtesy
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE >> The wife of KABC-TV chief meteorologist Dallas Raines pleaded not guilty Wednesday to allegations she beat and tried to strangle her 25-year-old daughter last month, officials said.
Danielle Raines, 58, of Pasadena is charged with a single felony count of assault by means likely to to produce great bodily injury, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.
The alleged assault took place on Aug. 31 in La Canada Flintridge, officials said.
Danielle Raines had been drinking wine with her 25-year-old daughter at a country club prior to the incident, Santiago said in a written statement.
“(Raines) she became belligerent and struck and pushed her daughter as she prepared to drive her mother home,” according to the statement.
The alleged assault continued as the daughter drove, prompting her to pull over, Santiago said.
“Once on the side of the road, Raines allegedly continued beating the victim and attempted to strangle her before she managed to escape,” the statement said.
If convicted as charged, Raines faces a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.
The motive in the alleged assault was unclear.
Deputy District Attorney Jodi Taksar, who is prosecuting the case, deferred comment to the district attorney’s media relations office.
Raines remains free pending the legal process on $35,000 bail, which she posted the day of her arrest, records show.
Bail was set at $30,000. If convicted as charged, the defendant faces a possible maximum sentence of four years in state prison.
MONTBELLO >> A Montebello man who beat and strangled his wife before stashing her body in the trunk of the family car and fleeing with the couple’s four children in late-2014 admitted charges of murder and child abuse Thursday, prosecutors said.
Daniel Diego Perez was charged with murder and other crimes for the slaying of 39-year-old Erica Perez, whose body was discovered on the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2014, in the trunk of the family’s 2010 Honda Accord, parked at 2nd Street and Harding Avenue, Montebello police Capt. Luis Lopez said at the time. The family of six was reported missing Dec. 9 after a relative reported they had not been seen since Dec. 5.
Police arrested Daniel Perez and recovered the four boys — then-ages 6, 8, 9 and 11 — following a pursuit that ended with a standoff near Santee.
During what was scheduled to be a pre-trial hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, “Daniel Diego Perez, 45, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of of his 39-year-old wife, Erica,” Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in written statement.
He also admitted two counts of child abuse for endangering his two younger sons during the pursuit and standoff leading up to his arrest. The search for the father and sons resulting in a statewide Amber Alert.
Judge Leslie Swain sentenced Perez to 15 years to life in prison for the murder, plus seven years and four months for the child abuse.
Daniel Perez previously pleaded not guilty to the charges, which originally included kidnapping as well.
An autopsy determined Erica Perez died from probably asphyxia and strangulation, according to Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner records. Investigators also noted multiple blunt force traumatic injuries as an additional significant cause of the death. The death was ruled a homicide.
When police were first seeking the missing couple, prior to the discovery of Erica Perez’s body, police relayed that family members had reported the couple’s marriage was “unstable” and there was a history of domestic violence.
The couple’s four children have since been placed in the care of family members.
PHOTOS; Erica Perez, left. Daniel Perez, right. (Courtesy)
PASADENA >> Police and fire officials arrested the second of two suspects Thursday connected to the torching of a car in Pasadena six months ago, authorities said.
Police found and arrested Artesha Daniels, 39, of Pasadena in Los Angeles on Thursday morning, according to Pasadena police Lt. Jesse Carrillo and Los Angeles County booking records.
Fellow suspect Alejandra Martinez, 25, of Pasdena turned herself into authorities Tuesday, records show.
The suspects’ identities had been known to investigators since the days following the March 19 arson fire at La Tierra Street and Daisy Avenue, Pasadena Fire Department spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.
“(Fire investigators) had been actively searching for the suspects with the police department,” she said.
An arrest warrant was issued months ago, but the two suspects eluded authorities until this week.
The alleged arson, which destroyed the victim’s 2002 Volvo as it was parked on the street, was believed to have been motivated by personal dispute between the suspects and victim, Derderian said. Further details regarding the motive were not available.
Investigators found the Volvo had been doused with flammable liquid and set ablaze, she said.
PASADENA >> A Pasadena man is accused of armed robbery over can of soda after he pulled a knife on a store employee who confronted him about the alleged theft Wednesday afternoon, police said.
Lorenzo Amado Matson, 22, was jailed immediately following the 12:45 p.m. incident at the 99 Cents Only Store, 442 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena police Lt. John Luna said.
He stole a can of soda from the store, and the employee confronted him, the lieutent said. Matson pulled a knife and threatened the employee before fleeing.
The worker followed after Matson and directed police to him, Luna said. Officers arrested him without a struggle.
According to county booking records, Matson was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail pending his initial court appearance.
EL MONTE >> The El Monte police department launched its “Service Area Policing” program this week, dividing the city into four separate quadrants, in an effort to streamline communication between the city and the community and more efficiently address specific problems and issues within the city.
Under the Service Area Policing program, which began Wednesday, the city has been divided into four geographical area, with police services for each overseen by a dedicated service area lieutenant, El Monte Police Chief David Reynoso said.
“Service area policing is becoming the industry standard for many police departments in the region,” the chief said. “It’s another tool to help us communicate with the public, learn their concerns and provide the best service we can.”
The program does not replace the traditional 9-1-1 system for emergencies, but it designed to help residents and business people deal with “chronic” quality of life issues, ranging from graffiti and speeding vehicles to code violations and public health issues.
The program helps police make more efficient use of resources to place them where they be the most effective, police said in a written statement.
“The Service Area Commanders have all of the resources of the police department available to them to address the needs of the community. Streamlining and utilizing resources in such a manner is a way to bypass our limitations,” according to the statement.
Even if the issue is not a police matter, police can work with citizens to notify the proper agency about their concerns, Reynoso said.
“Any community concern is our concern,” he added. And serice area commanders will work closely with other local agencies, such as public works, parks and recreation and the city council.
“Each entity offers its own distinct perspective toward the accomplishment of a solution towards the betterment of our city,” the polcie statement said. “This cultural change must migrate to all areas of the city and become part of the cultural norm our residents and businesses expect to be successful.
Under the program, the city of more than 115,000 people is divided into four areas, with the 10 Freeway serving as the boundary between the north and south, and Peck Road serving as the boundary between east and west.
Service Area 1, the northwest quadrant, is headed by Lt. Richard Cassetta, who can be reached at email@example.com. Service Area 2, consisting of the city’s northeast quadrant, is supervised by Lt. Ben Lowry, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Service Area 3, made up of the city’s southwest quadrant, is headed by Lt. Ernie Cramer, who can be reached at email@example.com. Service Area 4, at the southeast corner of the city, is supervised by Lt. Peter Rasic, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All of the Service Area commanders can be reached by telephone at 626-580-2109.
“The program is built around a partnership between police and the community, Reynoso said.
“The success of this program depends on our cooperation,” he said.
PHOTOS: [Left to right] El Monte police Service Area 1 Lt. Richard Cassetta; El Monte police Service Area 2 Lt. Ben Lowry; El Monte police Service Area 3 Lt. Ernie Cramer; El Monte police Service Area 4 Lt. Pete Rasic. (Courtesy)
BALDWIN PARK >> Two men chased down a big rig to Irwindale after it was stolen in Baldwin Park Wednesday, but the thief escaped with the help of a knife-wielding accomplice who spirited him away in a getaway car, officials said.
The chain of events began about 11:50 a.m. with the report of a big rig being stolen in the 15200 block of Arrow Highway, just west of Azusa Canyon Road, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joshua Hendricks said.
A co-owner of the truck and a man in his friend, both men in their 20s, saw the truck drive off, he said. They called police and followed behind the stolen big rig in another car.
The truck became stuck in traffic on Irwindale Avenue at the 210 Freeway in Irwindale, officials said. The driver of the just-stolen big rig reversed the truck and rammed his pursuers. No injuries were reported, and the damage to the car was described as minor.
The victims exited their car and tried to grab the truck thief, but an accomplice showed up and brandished a knife before both suspects fled in a gray BMW sedan, Hendricks said.
Detailed descriptions of the suspects were not available.
The investigation was being handled by Irwindale police, Hendricks said. Irwindale police Sgt. Rene Sapien declined to discuss the case, referring inquiries back to Baldwin Park police.
SOUTH EL MONTE >> Sheriff’s investigators seized $1.5 million worth of marijuana and arrested two men during a raid at a South El Monte warehouse on Tuesday, authorities said.
Hokab Avagyan, 42, of South El Monte and Armen Begoyan, 41, of Los Angeles were booked on suspicion of cultivation of marijuana following the 11 a.m. bust in an industrial neighborhood in the 1000 block of Adelia Avenue, according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and booking records.
Deputies seized about 2,200 live marijuana plants, 40 pounds of “finished” marijuana and $10,000 in cash, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
“As part of an ongoing investigation into a potential illicit marijuana growing operation, members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Narcotics Bureau Northeast team served several search warrants in the 1000 Block of Adelia Avenue,” the statement said. “At the conclusion of the operation, a large complex illicit marijuana grow was discovered inside of a warehouse/business.”
Both Avagyan and Begoyan were released from custody Tuesday night pending their initial court appearances after posting $50,000 bail each, records show.
No further details were released Wednesday as detectives continued their investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact sheriff’s Sgt. McGee at (562) 324-5547. Tips may also be submitted anonymously to L.A. Regional Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
PHOTOS courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department