Officer-Involved Shooting Occurs During Gang Activity Investigation

March 2, 2002

"Officer-Involved Shooting Occurs During Gang Activity Investigation"

Los Angeles: On March 2, 2002, at approximately 12:10 a.m., the Rampart Special Enforcement Unit Gang Detail was conducting a surveillance on Leeward Avenue between Vermont and Westmoreland Avenues in response to a recent spike in gang shootings. The surveillance included an observation post and chase cars. Surveilling officers observed two suspects, whose appearance suggested they were gang members, approach a trash dumpster. One of the suspects, subsequently identified as Jose Depaz, male Hispanic, 18 years of age, picked up an object near the dumpster and secreted it in his front waistband. The suspects then approached and entered an older gray 2-door hatchback vehicle, driven by a third suspect. The suspects drove away and subsequently proceeded west on 8th Street from Westmoreland Avenue.
Surveilling officers were describing the suspects, their actions, that they were possibly armed and their direction of travel as these events unfolded, via Astro radio. Rampart Gang Detail Officers monitored the broadcast and began following the suspects westbound on 8th Street from Westmoreland Avenue. The suspect’s vehicle suddenly slowed mid-block 8th Street between Westmoreland and Vermont Avenues. Depaz and a second suspect exited the vehicle and fled. Officers stopped their police vehicle and pursued them as the driver of the suspects’ vehicle drove away.
One of the two officers took the second suspect in to custody. Officer J. Stewart, Serial No. 32415, 27 years of age, 61/2 years with the Department, pursued Depaz north through the houses, toward Leeward Avenue. Officer Stewart broadcast that he was in foot pursuit and his direction of travel. As Depaz reached Leeward Avenue, Officer Stewart heard a metal object, which Depaz had apparently dropped, strike the ground. Officer Stewart then observed Depaz pick up a stainless steel handgun and point it at Officer Stewart. The officer, fearing the suspect was about to shoot him, drew his service pistol and fired it at the suspect. The suspect groaned as if wounded then fled west on Leeward Avenue.
Rampart Gang Detail Officers responded to the foot pursuit broadcast and arrived at Leeward Avenue, just east of Vermont Avenue. Officer M. Gomez, Serial No. 27297, 41 years of age, 12 years with the Department, observed Depaz run west, past his police vehicle. Officer Gomez exited his vehicle and observed Depaz point a stainless steel revolver at him. Officer Gomez, fearing that Depaz would shoot him, drew his service pistol and fired at the suspect. Depaz continued running then dropped to the ground and threw the pistol under a vehicle parked on the west side of Vermont Avenue, north of Leeward Avenue. Depaz was taken into custody by pursing officers. A loaded stainless steel handgun was recovered from under the aforementioned vehicle.
It was determined that Depaz had been wounded in the left leg. He was transported to a local hospital where he received treatment and was listed in stable condition. He was subsequently booked for violation of Penal Code Section 245 (d)(1) (Assault with a Deadly Weapon upon a Police Officer). The second suspect was questioned and released. The driver of the suspects’ vehicle was not located. No officer was injured as a result of this incident.
Anyone with information is urged to call Robbery Homicide Division at 213-485-2129. During off-hours or weekends call the 24-hour toll free number at the Detective Information Desk, 1-877-LAWFULL, 1-877-526-3855.
For further information regarding this release, contact Media Relations section at 213-485-3586.
This press release was prepared by Public Information Officer Guillermo Campos, Media Relations Section.