Police Officers killed by gang members in Los Angeles County

By Alex Alonso for Streetgangs
June 7, 2004
Updated: November 15, 2005
Updated: June 28, 2011

Officer Daniel Pratt was killed in the line of duty in 1988 in a gang-related assault in South LA.

The relationship between some gang members and the police has been a tenuous one for years. Because police come into contact with gang members during tense situations, those interactions can be unpredictable. Officers confront gang members usually in response to reported criminal activity or for the purposes of investigating a crime. Although gangs and gang members spend a majority of their time socializing and interacting with their peers engaged in non-criminal socialization, police come into contact with them more times than not investigating a violation or crime.

Because of this unstable relationship, hostilities percolate and the contact between the two sides can result in deadly force. Although extremely rare, police officers need to safeguard themselves when coming into contact with any person when there are unknowns, but the thousands of face-to-face interactions and consensual contacts that take place between police and gang members on a daily basis occur without incident.

Police officers risk their lives every time they are on patrol or investigating a crime, but contrary to popular belief, being a cop is not the most dangerous job in the US. Additionally, their contacts with street gang members, in Los Angeles and nation-wide are not as dangerous as the routine domestic violence call.

The level of danger that police officers encounter does not rank in the top ten of jobs with the highest fatality rates. Firefighters, for example, die at a higher rate putting out flames, miners loose their lives more often, loggers are surrounded by extreme dangers everyday, and crab fishermen had one of the highest on-the-job mortality rates in 2001. Below is a list of the most dangerous jobs that Americans faced in 2002.

Occupation Fatalities per 100,000
Timber cutters 117.8
Fishers 71.1
Pilots and navigators 69.8
Structural metal workers 58.2
Drivers-sales workers 37.9
Roofers 37
Electrical power installers 32.5
Farm occupations 28
Construction laborers 27.7
Truck drivers 25

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; survey of occupations with minimum 30 fatalities and 45,000 workers in 2002

In 1997, there were 161 peace officers killed world wide, and nearly 87 percent of those killed were from agencies in the United States. Although the media plays up the danger that police officers are surrounded by when dealing with street gangs, the most dangerous calls for police officers are the routine domestic violence call.

Below is a list of all police officers and deputies that have been killed in the line of duty by gang members in Los Angeles County. Between 1988 and 2003 there were a total of 72 law enforcement officers in Los Angeles County that were killed in the line of duty.

Although gang members have been responsible for several murders of police officers, several of these murders occurred in the context of domestic violence calls, traffic stops, and armed robberies, where the suspect’s gang identity played little to no role in their decision to murder a police officer. Although there exist an extremely fragile relationship between some gang members and the police, the overwhelming majority of gang members would never condone, attempt or approve the murder of police officers.

  1. Deputy Gary Saunders, 30, LASD Firestone, May 21, 1971, Trinidad Iglesias, 21, shot and killed Deputy Saunders at 70th Street and Holmes. Iglesias was a Florencia members and was found guilty of 2nd degree murder.

  2. Officer James Beyea, 24, LAPD North Hollywood Division, June 7, 1988, allegedly killed by a robbery suspect and Vineland Boys gang member Bobby Jay Steele, 16, during a physical struggle over Beyea’s weapon. He was later killed by the LAPD when he was hiding in attic.

  3. Officer Daniel Pratt, Sept 3, 1988, LAPD, 77th Division killed by Kirkton Moore, 27, of the Harvard Park Brims.

  4. Officer Kevin Michael Burrell, Feb 2, 1993 Compton Police Department killed by Regis Deon Thomas from the Bounty Hunter Bloods, .

  5. Officer James Wayne Mac Donald, Feb 2, 1993 Compton Police Department killed by Regis Deon Thomas from the Bounty Hunter Bloods.

  6. Officer Charles B. Heim, October 22, 1994, Los Angeles Police Department, Hollywood Division on temporary assignment killed by Manuel Vargas Perez, 26 from White Fence, Hollywood faction.

  7. Deputy Stephen W. Blair, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, May 12, 1995, Century Station, was killed by Freddie Fuiava from Young Crowd gang in Lynwood by a .44 Magnum revolver.

  8. Officer Daniel T. Fraembs, Pomona Police Department, May 11, 1996, killed by Ronald Bruce Mendoza of Happy Town Gang

  9. Officer Mario Navidad, Los Angeles Police Department, Wilshire Division, December 22, 1996, killed by Aleim Ulloa Ortiz who was sentenced to death.

  10. Deputy Shayne York, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Aug. 14, 1997, killed by Kevin Boyce of the Rollin 60s Crips/ York was off-duty when Boyce killed him.

  11. Deputy Michael Hoenig, Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department, Oct 30, 1997, was shot and killed by Enrique Parra Duenas, who was under the influence of methamphetamine using a .45-caliber Colt semiautomatic. Duenas may NOT have been a gang members.

  12. Officer Steve Gajada,Los Angeles Police Department, Hollenbeck Division, Jan 1, 1998, killed by Mario Machado, 17.

  13. Officer Filbert H. Cuesta, Los Angeles Police Department, Southwest Division, August 9, 1998, killed by Catarino Gonzalez, 23, from 18th Street Gang

  14. Officer Brian Brown, Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Division, November 29, 1998, killed by Oscar Zatarain, 23, from Inglewood 13.

  15. Officer Daryle W. Black, Long Beach Police Department, April 30, 2000, killed by Ramon “Gumby” Sandoval Jr., 18.

  16. Officer Matthew Pavelka, 26, Burbank Police Department, November 10, 2003, allegedly killed by David A. Garcia, 19, from Vineland Boys.

  17. Officer Ricardo Lizarraga, Los Angeles Police Department, Newton Division, February 20, 2004, allegedly killed by Kenrick Johnson, 32, of the Rollin 20s Bloods, during a domestic violence call.

  18. Officer Thomas J. Steiner, 35, California Highway Patrol, April 24, 2004, was killed by Valentino Mitchell Arenas, 16, from Pomona 12th Street, in front of the Pomona South Courthouse, Steiner was to testify in traffic cases.

  19. Deputy Jerry Ortiz, 35, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s, June 24, 2005 was killed by Jose Luis Orozco, 27, from Hawaiian Gardens. He was convicted and sentenced to death.

StreetGangs.Com Staff Posted by on Jun 7 2004. Filed under Features, Policing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Police Officers killed by gang members in Los Angeles County”

  1. 21 year old Pyscho Vietnam vet

    What about dude fron aves that killed that shierff with the ak,and the dude from 40′s that killed the cop in like 2004 then he killed himself in County

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