...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

February 22, 2004

Officer Down

Sadly, there is also bad news this Sunday. A Los Angeles Police Officer was killed in the line of duty on Friday, while responding to a domestic violence call.

Officer Ricardo Lizarraga, 30, was shot allegedly by Kenrick Johnson, 32, as Lizarraga and his partner confronted Johnson in a South Los Angeles apartment. Lizarraga died Friday afternoon after surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center fought to save his life.
They caught the guy that did it pretty quickly. i hope they fry him just as quickly. He had a 16 year criminal history, including convictions for robbery, arson, drug dealing and domestic violence.
The suspect in the Lizarraga killing was being held Saturday in Men's Central Jail on suspicion of homicide and violating his parole from a prior robbery conviction, police said.
What disturbs me is the number of people out there who are shooting at police. i had heard that random potshots have been increasing. The L.A. Times article doesn't say whether there's been an increase, but there is this quote by Police Chief Bratton:
At a Saturday afternoon news conference, Bratton said he was incensed by the gunfire directed at members of the force. He said that LAPD officers had been shot at eight times so far in 2004, in addition to 40 such incidents last year.

The police chief blamed a number of factors, but said the primary problem was 'so many people with guns and they're not reluctant to use them — [they're] sociopaths.'

In fact, another LAPD officer was wounded yesterday in the same neighborhood where Officer Lizarraga was killed.
An unidentified undercover officer suffered a graze wound when he and a colleague tried to break up a fight. The scuffle, which included gunshots, had spilled into the street from a party near the intersection of 84th Street and Broadway in South Los Angeles, Bratton said.

The officers, who were searching for a murder suspect, had been watching the party from a van. They were shot at as they identified themselves as police. The officers fired back, killing one suspect who had tried to flee and wounding another.

Another sadly ironic twist was that Thursday, the day before Officer Lizarraga's death, the City of Burbank held a lunch honoring all the people who helped to apprehend the scumbag that killed one of their own officers last November. That manhunt took a lot longer, but they finally caught the guy. I think he was on his way to Mexico.

It's not a good time to be a cop, these days. i'm paying more attention to these stories partly because i'm working on a novel about police. But also, these events hit home because i've always admired police officers. Like firefighters, they go inside places when any other sane person would say, "I ain't goin in there."

Officer Pavelka, the Burbank cop, was my age. He was just doing a routine traffic stop. Officer Lizarraga was trying to pat down the suspect when the guy got away and came back with a gun. He was shot twice, just below the bulletproof vest.

Posted by annika, Feb. 22, 2004 |


This is slightly off topic but a lot of people in my world (i.e. gun nuts) have been arguing for a long time about the appropriate response to cops enforcing unjust &/or unconstitutional laws.

One of the basic things everyone agrees on is that at a certain point people will get ticked off enough & start fighting back. The disagreement comes at determining where that point is. Obviously a cop giving a ticket for doing 1 over the speed limit isn't a sign that it's time to take to the streets, but on the other hand when the cattle car rolls up to your door it'd be too late to do anything but take a few of them with ya.

So to answer your question, odds are cops are getting shot at more because they're enforcing laws that aren't real popular with people who are frustrated & se eno other option.

Now this wouldn't cover this situation here (judging by the news story at least)& perhaps it would only cover a small minority of shots at cop per year. But I think it at least in part explains the increase in shots taken at cops.

& this isn't just confined to the gun issue. Drug laws, questionable SS (social service) practices, enviromental laws, etc.. coupled with a lack of redress of grievences could easily make someone directly affected by them & their enforcement think it's time to start fighting back.

& since cops enforce those laws with the threat or use of force, they're the closest, easiest & most natural target.

Now I'm not necessarily agreeing with that tactic but then again the state I'm in isn't as restrictive or problematic as cali is. If I lived in LA, NYC, DC, etc... then maybe my thinking would be different.

I forget who said it but since it's not Chief Joseph I hope I don't seem to out of character -

"If the police are intending on playing the part of an army of occupation, then the people should take up their roles as well - Viva Le Resistance!"

Again, I doubt think any of this is an explanation for the event you're talking about but it would explain at least in part why shootings at police seem to be on the rise.

Posted by: Publicola on Feb. 22, 2004

Police hate attending domestic disputes, because (a) the people involved are not going to be level headed, and (b) as soon as they show up, both sides of the dispute are likely to stop fighting each other and take it out on the cops instead.

It's apparently one of the most dangerous jobs that the police have to do.

Posted by: Pixy Misa on Feb. 22, 2004

Unfortunately, the gun control folks will point to this and say that we need to cut down on guns. Maybe they are right, but I feel that it isn't going to affect the felons; they'll have them no matter what laws we pass.

The crime rate is lower in states where everyone can carry a weapon because the crooks are never sure who is carrying and who isn't.

Actually, as I write this, I'd like to see some road rage statistics in those states as well, I'll bet the incidents are lower as well.

Shelly S.

Posted by: Shelly S. on Feb. 22, 2004

Chief Bratton used the occasion to complain about the prevalence of guns. But i agree. i don't see how more gun control would have prevented the shooter in this case from having or using his gun.

Posted by: annika! on Feb. 22, 2004