Gang Member on Parole Dies in Custody
Los Angeles: On February 3, 2007, 31-year-old Mauricio Cornejo died while in a holding cell at the Hollenbeck Police Station after his arrest for narcotics and gun possession. Cornejo, a local gang member, was taken into custody near the Ramona Gardens Housing Development.
The preliminary investigation by Force Investigation Division investigators has found that around 6:40 that evening, gang officers assigned to the Hollenbeck Police Station stopped the car Cornejo was driving for having a broken tail light. Once stopped, Cornejo was cooperative at first, then suddenly ran from officers. Police gave chase and saw Cornejo throw a gun.
As Cornejo approached a bridge near the 2700 block of Lancaster Avenue, he turned and attempted to hit an officer. Cornejo fought with the officers who requested help. Once the suspect was finally controlled, he was handcuffed and placed in a police car.
A search of Cornejo's car revealed evidence of narcotics. The officers also recovered the loaded .45-caliber handgun, which they had seen thrown during Cornejo's attempted escape.
The officers took Cornejo to the Hollebeck Police Station for booking. At around 7:30 PM, they noticed him having difficulty breathing and called for an ambulance. Paramedics pronounced Cornejo dead in the cell.
Force Investigation Division is continuing its investigation into the circumstances of the arrest and Cornejo's death. The two involved officers received minor injuries during the struggle but did not require hospitalization.
Cornejo was listed as a parolee at large by the California Department of Corrections.
Due to threats against the involved officers by local gang members, the officers' names are not being released at this time.
The coroner's examination will determine the cause of death.