MONTEBELLO >> Investigators arrested a former Montebello police corporal Wednesday on a charge of assault under color of authority for slamming a tagging suspect’s head into the pavement during a 2014 arrest, according to authorities, as well as county court and booking documents.
Mark Jason Ryan, 37, is charged with one felony count of assault by a public officer in connection with an alleged on-duty attack, which took place on Halloween of 2014, according to a felony complaint for arrest warrant filed against the former officer April 5 in Los Angeles Superior Court. The charge followed an investigation that lasted more than 17 months.
Los Angles County Sheriff’s Department deputies, who have been investigating the case, arrested Ryan on a warrant about 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court and booking records.
According to the complaint, “(Ryan) assaulted and beat Anthony Acosta under color of authority, the defendant being then and there a public officer, to wit, Montebello Police Department Corporal.”
Ryan responded to a report of two men tagging in the 2100 block of West Whittier Boulevard, district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
While arresting one of the men, “Ryan allegedly slammed one suspect’s head into the pavement,” according to the statement.
Acosta was 26 years old at the time of the alleged attack, records show.
He ultimately pleaded “no contest” to a count of vandalism, and admitted the crime was gang related, and received a one-year prison sentence in March of 2015, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Prosecutors declined to discussed the level of injury suffered by the alleged victim. Further detail regarding the circumstances of the alleged assault were not available Wednesday afternoon.
Ryan retired from the Montebello Police Department early this year, Montebello Police Chief Kevin McClure said.
The chief declined to comment further regarding the case or the incident, deferring to investigators in the district attorney’s office and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
According to Ryan’s online resume, he left the Montebello Police Department in February after 13 years as an officer, and is now working as a real estate agent. Ryan also served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2003, according to the profile.
Ryan served as Montebello Police Officers’ Association president last year.
According to prosecutors and county booking records, Ryan was released on a $35,000 bail bond Wednesday pending his arraignment hearing, scheduled May 4.
If convicted as charged, Ryan faces up to three years in state prison.
ARCADIA >> A homeless man pleaded received a two-year jail sentence Thursday for attacking two Arcadia police officers who approached him about panhandling last July, officials said.
David King Brewster, 25, who is known to frequent the Monrovia area, pleaded “no contest” to a felony charge of battery with injury on a police officer in Pomona Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
Under the negotiated plea arrangement, an additional charge of battery with injury on a police officer was dismissed, along with two counts of resisting arrest and one count of being under the influence of drugs, Santiago said.
The conviction stems from a July 6 encounter between Brewster and two Arcadia police officers in the 400 block of E. Huntington Drive.
“Brewster choked an officer and punched another as they attempted to talk to him about panhandling in the area,” district attorney’s officials said in a written statement.
On the day of the incident, Brewster was booked on suspicion of crimes including attempted murder of a peace before being formally charged with lesser crimes.
The involved officers suffered no major injuries, Santiago said.
Following his plea Thursday, Brewster was immediately sentenced to two years in state prison, to be served in county jail, officials said.
IRWINDALE >> The Irwindale police recognized officers and other personnel for acts ranging from charging toward an active shooter to resuscitating a lifeless baby during the department’s first-ever Employee Awards Banquet Wednesday.
Awards presented included the department’s Medal of Valor, awarded for “an act displaying extreme courage while consciously facing imminent peril”; the Life Saving Award, “when a life is saved or prolonged due to actions taken by an officer”; the Distinguished Service Award, “for performing exceptional service in a duty of great responsibility or of critical importance to law enforcement”; and the Meritorious Service Award, for “meritorious service similar to, but to a lesser degree than required for the Distinguished Service Medal,” Irwindale police officials said in a written statement.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of this department,” Chief Anthony Miranda said. “The men and women of this department are really doing, right now, the right thing for the right reason. That’s all any chief can ask for.”
Since the event was the department’s first awards ceremony, some of the recognitions were long overdue, official said.
Five sworn officers received the Medal of Valor, and a police dispatcher received a Distinguished Service Award for their efforts to stop a Dec. 16, 2011 mass shooting at an Irwindale Southern California Edison Office in which two people were killed and three others injured by a disgruntled coworker.
With the aid of Dispatcher Mariela Avila, Sgt. Greg Gomez, Cpl. Armando Lopez, Detective Jose Vargas, Sgt. Rudy Gatto, Officer Mario Camacho and Officer Jesse Bravo arrived within three minutes, police said.
“Without hesitation, these officers organized a six-person ‘active shooter’ entry team and entered the building,” according to the statement. Upon arrival, they immediately smelled burnt gunpowder and encountered panicked employees trying to flee.
“It is at this moment that each of these officers placed themselves in great danger and faced imminent peril as they closed in on the active shooter,” the statement said. “Dispatcher Mariela Avila was the voice and ears for these officers during this event and was the help the employees calling 9-1-1 needed to hear as she reassured them help was on the way.”
The gunman fatally shot himself as the officers closed in on him, officials said.
More than four years later, the involved officers were yet to be formally recognize for their heroism, Miranda said.
“For whatever reason, it didn’t happen. That didn’t sit right with me. It needed to be done. It really needed to be done,” the chief said.
Wednesday’s ceremony was held at a different SCE facility in Irwindale. SCE Vice President of Business Customer Division Lisa Cagnolatti was on-hand to express the utility’s gratitude to the first responders.
Sgt. John Fraijo and Officer Rudy Campos received Life Saving Awards for helping resuscitate and rescue a lifeless, choking toddler on Jan. 31, 2014. Sgt. Rene Sapien, Officer Joe Hardy and Dispatcher Sherry Peterson received Distinguished Service Awards for their roles in the same rescue.
Officer Rudy Campos received a second Life Saving Award for talking a suicidal man down from a 605 Freeway overpass on Aug. 20, 2014.
Officer Jesus Bravo received a Life Saving Award for performing CPR on a 60-year-old man for more than 10 minutes before paramedics arrived.
Sgt. George Zendejas, Sgt. Rudy Gatto and Officer Diego Cornejo received Meritorious Service Awards for their work to increase the department public outreach through social media and the Internet.
Also recognized were 2015 Officer of the Year Officer Rudy Campos; 2014 Officer of the Year Diego Cornejo; 2015 Civilian Employee of the Year Records Clerk Norma Ortiz and 2015 Civilian Employee of the Year Volunteer Dianna Hurst.
PHOTO courtesy of Glenn Purbaugh/Irwindale Police Department. — Chief Anthony Miranda, center, stands with award winners following the first-ever Irwindale Police Department Employee Awards Banquet on Wednesday, Jan, 27, 2016.
WEST COVINA >> West Covina police are inviting the public to take part in the department’s 10-week Citizens Academy, kicking off next month.
The free classes are held from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. every Thursday at the West Covina Police Department, 1444 West Garvey Ave., with the first meeting on Feb. 4, according to West Covina police Lt. Dave Lee.
“The Citizen Academy offers members of the community an up close and personal look at how the West Covina Police Department operates,” Lee said. “The program brings the community’s civic, business, and religious leaders together to experience firsthand how the West Covina Police Department responds to and investigates crimes in our community.”
Participants will learn about the personnel, tools and techniques involved in all aspects of law enforcement, “including patrol, investigations, Forensics, SWAT and K9 operations to name a few,” he said.
To sign up, or for more information, contact the department at 626-939-8530, or email CitizensAcademy@wcpd.org.
PASADENA >> Tee public is invited to offer comments on the Pasadena Police Department’s developing police body camera policy Monday during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee, officials said.
The meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, one the second floor of Pasadena City Hall, 100 N. Garfield Avenue.
Police are planning to begin fielding body-worn camera on officers, as well as non-sworn personnel assigned to patrol and jail duties, city officials said in a written statement.
“The City is seeking input from residents and others about possible elements for a new policy such as handling and storage of video recordings; how and when body cameras should be activated or turned off; public access to the recorded videos, and privacy issues,” according to the statement.
Pasadena officials allocated $300,000 to outfit the Pasadena Police Department with body cameras in June, but elected to delay deployment of the cameras pending the development of a policy.
And the city received $250,000 in federal funds for the program in September as part of a $23 million initiative by the Obama administration to outfit police with body cameras throughout the nation.
In a separate but related matter, officials issued a Request for Proposals was issued last week for the hiring of a consultant to study police oversight models for the department, officials said. Responses are due at the city manager’s office by 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 6.
COVINA >> A Covina congregation offered special prayers and blessings Sunday for police, firefighters and others in harms way during a small but heartfelt special mass to honor first responders.
It was the third annual first responders ceremony hosted at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 3rd Avenue and Badillo Street, with a strong showing from Covina police, including the family of fallen Covina police Sgt. Scott Hanson. Parishioners also reflected on the sacrifice of Covina police Officer Jordan Corder, killed in an on-duty motorcycle crash less than a year ago on Sept. 30.
Led by the Rev. Steve De Muth and the Rev. William Peyton, the parish asked God’s protection and guidance for those who stand in watch over society.
“It is our sincere hope that by recognizing the work you do, and by offering our prayers and out fellowship, we will strengthen the bonds of community,” De Muth said. “For this is the job of religion, to support one another in our particular vocations to love god and to love our neighbors.”
De Muth cited the book of Isaiah, which calls upon the faithful to “Go set a watchman” to serve as a moral conscience of a society. The verse inspired the title of the recently published sequel to Harper Lee’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
He likened the role of first responders to the biblical watchmen.
“Did you know that when an officer dies, they say his watch has ended?” De Muth said.
De Muth also called on the congregation to pray for firefighters and all other first responders who regularly risk their own safety to protect others.
“Be with them today and protect them always as they continue their diligence on the streets of our nation,” Peyton prayed. “For those who have given their lives, we ask that their families are healed and protected from more harm, and that your healing balm may bring them peace.”
Police officers lined up to receive a blessing from the priests. Several offered up their duty belts to be blessed as well.
Officer Hanson’s widow, Allison Hanson, attended the ceremony with her children Sarah and Andrew. Andrew has followed in his father’s footsteps. Having recently graduated a law enforcement academy, the young police officer is now undergoing training with the Glendale Police Department.
Allison said she and her family are grateful for the ongoing show of support from the community.
“To have the department here, and the city, and our family, it’s pretty amazing,” she said.
Sunday’s ceremony coincided with the church’s Feast of St. Michael of All Angeles, De Muth explained.
Following Mass, the church presented attending officers with certificated of appreciation and medallions depicting St. Michael, known as the patron saint of first responders.
“What a blessing it is when our church communities come together to raise up our officers — those who, as Father Steve said, stand watch on our behalf. And we’re so thankful,” Covina Mayor John King said.
“We have officers who care, who stand up on our behalf, and who we should say thank you to every single day,” he said. “God bless each and every one of them.”
PHOTOS: [TOP, BOTTOM] – Courtesy of David Clarke/Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. [CENTER] Staff photo by Brian Day
The last chief Barney Melekian erned his striped in Santa Monica. Now Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck has reached out to the westside to choose Phil Sanchez as Pasadena’s next chief, sources close to the process said Wednesday,
PASADENA – Santa Monica Deputy Chief Phil Sanchez will be named the next Pasadena police chief, according to a source familiar with the hiring process.
City officials have not yet named Sanchez, but have said that the candidate for the job is undergoing a psychological exam this week, and will be revealed to the public next Tuesday.
The city manager was given the task of selecting Pasadena’s new police chief but has never released the names of the finalists for the job.
Sources close to the selection process named the three finalists as Sanchez, interim Police Chief Chris Vicino, and Covina Police Chief Kim Raney.
The 53-year-old Sanchez has served his entire career in the Santa Monica Police Department and was a candidate to become chief in that city during the last hiring process in 2006.
Some would call this living large. The timing is questionable considering the state of West Covina’s finances are such that the city can’t even afford to pay to televise its council meetings and still faces lawsuits from two employees that could cost $100,000s.
WEST COVINA – The city’s police commanders started a three day and two night team building workshop on Monday at a four star resort and spa in Orange County.
Police Chief Frank Wills said 21 officers and two civilian staffers participated in the first day of the retreat at Marriott’s Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa in Dana Point.
“We need to develop a plan for the future,” Wills said. “We’re going to have to downsize (because of fiscal challenges) and we have to develope a plan for that.”
The resort offers two outdoor heated pools, whirlpools, yoga classes and full-service spa, according to its Web site.
The taxpayer funded California Commission on Peace Officer’s Standards and Training (POST) will reimburse the city for about $8,000 in expenses associated with the retreat, City Manager Andrew Pasmant said.
I’m going to reprint the Star-news editorial from this morning here, because it’s an appropriate call for open government in a process that has so far been a perversion of California open public records law:
WE applaud Pasadena City Manager Michael Beck for convening a second, more inclusive and open police chief selection advisory panel.
Criticized by many in the community, including ourselves, for keeping his initial panel shrouded in secrecy, Beck apparently now sees the real need for openness in city government.
Perhaps the city manager had to scramble a bit to finally understand the reasons such openness is important. And we do strongly wish that the names of those on the original committee had been made public, the same as every other commission and committee in City Hall, before its members met, not after. But Beck can’t unring that bell. It would seem that he has heard the criticism, and responded in an appropriate manner.
One of the most telling things to come out of the after-the-fact naming of those who did serve on the panel was the panel’s clear lack of economic and geographical diversity among its members – a front-loading of insiders and bureaucrats with not even a sprinkling of regular folks.