Four people charged in killing of off-duty LAPD officer
Federal prosecutors on Thursday filed a criminal complaint charging three gang members and an associate in the killing earlier this week of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer, who authorities said was robbed and shot by his assailants while shopping for a home.
On Monday, just after 9 p.m. Los Angeles Police Officer Fernando Arroyos and his girlfriend were in the area of 1712 E. 87th Street looking for a home to purchase when two men who arrived in a pick-up truck approached with guns pointed and took Arroyos’ chains from his neck. The encounter was captured on nearby video surveillance, according to federal court documents.
Arroyos and the suspects, Ernesto Cisneros, 22, Jesse Contreras, 34, exchanged gunfire, before Arroyos collapsed in an alleyway and the suspects fled. His cause of death was determined to be a single gunshot wound.
Cisneros was also shot and taken to a hospital, but recovered.
Luis Alfredo De La Rosa Rios, 29 was driving the pick-up truck and his girlfriend, Haylee Marie Grisham, 18, was in the front seat, prosecutors said.
All three men were known members of the Florentina 13 gang. The multi-generational Los Angeles gang has previously been the subject of federal prosecution, including two other large racketeering cases.
Prosecutors have charged the four with violent crime in aid of racketeering, which carries a potential death sentence and minimum sentence of life in federal prison without the possibility of parole.
Local law enforcement leaders spoke at a press conference Thursday evening, and in part addressed why federal charges were pursued instead of state charges, as might usually be sought in such a case.
“I’m thankful to the U.S. Attorney stepping in and bringing the full weight of the government against this gang,” said LAPD Chief Michel Moore at the press conference.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he believed that the local district attorney’s office did not have a satisfactory response to the gravity of the crime, and thanked federal partners for stepping in to take the lead on prosecution efforts.
“I believe their (local officials’) plan was to prosecute a simple murder with no gun enhancements, no gang enhancements,” said LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva during the press conference.
Prosecutors said the defendants were taken into custody Wednesday by investigators with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The defendants are expected to be transferred to federal custody Friday morning and to make their initial court appearances Friday afternoon in federal court.