LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT
Friday, September 18, 1998 started as any normal day for Kelly Benitez, a 29-year old San Fernando Valley resident serving as a Patrol Officer assigned to Devonshire Community Police Station. Following roll call at 6:30 A.M., this three-year peace officer began his routine duties, which would include on this day a court appearance, the recovery of a stolen vehicle, several burglary investigation calls, a truant contact, and traffic enforcement activities.
As Officer Benitez’ normal workday drew near to a close, he saw a vehicle with expired registration. He contemplated stopping it, even though he knew this might further extend his day. At approximately 2:45 p.m., Kelly Benitez stopped the male occupant of the vehicle at Tampa Avenue and Devonshire Street, and two lives changed forever.
As Kelly interviewed the driver, he asked for his driver’s license. Kelly noted the driver’s last name was identical to his own. As a matter of routine, Kelly returned to his vehicle to determine the status of the driver’s license. The license check confirmed the driver to be Paul Benitez, Jr., and a resident of Northridge.
Kelly had never known his father, their last contact was when Kelly was just four months old. Kelly had long believed his father may be dead, but always wondered. Kelly knew his father’s name was Paul Benitez, Jr., but that was all. Over the years, Kelly had looked for his father, including searches on the Internet, but to no avail.
When Kelly returned to the vehicle, he asked the driver if he had ever been married to a woman named Debra. The man said he was never married to a Debra but that he had dated a woman with that name more than twenty years ago. At that moment, Paul Benitez, Jr. suddenly looked at Kelly and exclaimed, “Oh my God, I’m your father!”
Against incalculable odds, in a city of over 3.5 million people, and with fate playing its hand by keeping Officer Benitez in the field longer than normal, Officer Kelly Benitez found his natural father. After exchanging information so they could continue their reunion, and after Kelly gave Paul Benitez, Jr. a stern warning for his expired registration, they parted with a warm hug.
Since that chance meeting, Kelly and his father have met and learned about each other. Kelly learned his father is a sixth grade teacher at Bird Middle School in Sun Valley and that he has a 12-year-old half brother, Amadeus Benitez.
Both Officer Kelly Benitez and Paul Benitez, Jr., will be available for interview at Devonshire Community Police Station, 10250 Etiwanda Avenue, Northridge, on Friday, September 25, 1998, at 3:00 p.m.
For Additional Information, Contact:
Captain Joseph Curreri
Area Commanding Officer
Devonshire Community Police Station
For Release 4:30 pm PST
September 25, 1998