Another Night in the City

Saturday, July 27, 2019 may have started off as another night in the Cypress Park barrio of Los Angeles, three miles from Lincoln Heights, where off duty two-year veteran Los Angeles police officer Juan Jose Diaz had lived all of his 24 years.
Juan Diaz, his girlfriend and her two brothers were eating tacos in Cypress Park. He was off duty and in civilian clothes. Diaz wore his hair buzzed close to his head, as did local gang bangers from the Avenues street gang.
Diaz, his girlfriend and her brothers were about the same age as most of the Avenues that night. The gang that had been around since the 1950’s.
The Avenues are named after the streets in their neighborhood with numerical street names. Members of the gang wear tats of skulls in fedora hats with bullet holes in the front, and are alleged to be associated with the Mexican Mafia.
Diaz and his friends were eating tacos when he saw a gang banger tagging a wall. Diaz confronted the tagger and asked him to stop. It is not known if Diaz identified himself as an off- duty officer, before the gang banger left the scene and returned shortly after that with his friends.
One of the gang bangers lifted his shirt to show Diaz that he had a gun. Diaz was unarmed and after being threatened by the gang bangers, Diaz, his girlfriend and her two brothers rushed to their car to try to avoid a confrontation.
As they got into their car the gunman fired two shots. Officer Diaz was fatally wounded and his girlfriend’s brother was wounded.
Witnesses flagged down a Los Angeles Police motorcycle officer at about one AM at Avenue 26 and Humboldt Street. Officer Diaz was dead and the brother of his girlfriend was taken to a local hospital, where he would recover from the gunshot wound.
I wasn’t in Los Angeles until August 1st, and I caught bits and pieces of the story, as it was broadcast on every local Los Angeles television station. I watched television with a friend that I have known for several years.
After a six-day manhunt, three suspects were taken into custody in the Riverside County cities of Riverside, Murrieta and Temecula.
The suspects were identified as Francisco Talamantes, age 23, Cristian Falcundo, age 20 and Ashlynn Smith, age 18. All three were arrested on suspicion of murder with gang affiliation.
After we watched the suspects being taken into custody by detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department, I asked my friend why Officer Diaz was not carrying a weapon when he was off duty.
I told my friend that as a former peace officer in California, all off duty officers carried handguns back in the day.
She said that things have changed and that L.A.P.D. commanders advise officers not to carry guns off duty if they were “going drinking, or clubbing.”
A photo of the slain officer was broadcast over the television. Officer Diaz looked good in his uniform. I could see that his hair on the sides of his head was extremely short, and I told my friend that this must have been an academy graduation picture, after pointing out the shaved sides of his head. The top of the head was covered by his uniform hat.
She went on to explain that L.A.P.D. officers were told by superior officers to buzz their hair for the first two years, after graduating from the academy.
I thought that this was odd, considering that a lot of young unmarried cops still lived with their parents near the stations they work at. Officer Diaz lived at home in the barrio according to her.
I pointed out that in a city with an estimated 450 active street gangs with over 45,000 members, and many L.A.P.D. officers being Hispanic and living in Hispanic barrios, with buzzed heads and not carrying weapons in neighborhoods with gang problems, sounded like the making of a perfect storm for police officers.
Two of the largest transnational street gangs, Mara Salvatruchi (MS-13) and 18th Street started in Los Angeles and have spread all over the United States and Central America.
I point this out because the L.A.P.D has refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), because of L.A.P.D. Special Order 40, which prohibits L.A.P.D. officers from cooperating with federal law enforcement in immigration matters.
L.A.P.D. brass have also suggested that ICE agents stop wearing raid jackets with the word Police written on the jackets, when operating in the city of Los Angeles. They do not want ICE to be mistaken for the L.A.P.D.
I am not suggesting that all Hispanic gang members are illegal aliens, but statistics show that a large number of Hispanic gang members are in the United States illegally.
Juan Jose Diaz was buried with full police honors in Los Angeles on August 12, 2019.
The End

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