Sheriff John Scott presided over the 45th Annual Los Angeles County Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony on Wednesday, May 21, 2014, to commemorate the lives of those peace officers who died in the line of duty while serving the residents of Los Angeles County. Attending the memorial ceremony were numerous federal, state, and local dignitaries, in addition to family members, friends, and co-workers of the fallen officers.
Held in the Memorial Park at the Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services (STARS) Center in Whittier, the ceremony included musical performances by members of law enforcement and the release of white doves on behalf of the fallen officers.
Chief Charlie Beck, Los Angeles Police Department was the keynote speaker. Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Fifth District Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; and Chief Robert Fager, Hawthorne Police Department also served as honorable guest speakers.
Regrettably, the names of the following officers were added to the Memorial Wall:
Sergeant Leonard R. Luna, Jr., Hawthorne Police Department, who died on July 8, 2013, as a result of injuries he sustained when another vehicle struck his motorcycle while traveling on the I-105 Freeway.
Officer Christopher Cortijo, Los Angeles Police Department, who died on April 9, 2014, after suffering complications from injuries he sustained when a vehicle failed to stop for a red light, crushing him and his motorcycle between two vehicles.
In addition, historical research determined that the following peace officers, previously killed in the line of duty, are deserving of their place on the Memorial Wall:
Deputy Adolfo Celis, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who died on April 18, 1883, from a gunshot wound to his chest, when his rifle dislodged, fell out of the buckboard, striking a wagon wheel and discharged.
Constable Anton Harnischfeger, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, on March 20, 1889, after suffering complications from a gunshot wound to his face, when he was attempting to serve an arrest warrant on a suspect who had assaulted a 15 year old victim earlier in the day.
Deputy Constable Anthony B. Couts, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who died on October 25, 1914, as a result from injuries he sustained from gunshot wounds, while responding to a dispute between two property owners.
Constable John S. (Jack) Pilcher, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, died tragically on June 4, 1925, when his partner’s gun fell out of his shoulder holster, striking the ground and discharging, shooting Constable Pilcher between the eyes.
Deputy James L. McDermott, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who died on August 26, 1931, when he was impaled on a hook used to suspend a water hose, injuries he sustained while trying to stop his runaway county vehicle and prevent it from reentering traffic or severely damaging the station. The sharp point pierced his chest just below his heart.
Sergeant Raymond C. Willis, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, who died tragically on April 15, 1957, while responding to a search for a downed plane near Malibu, the small airplane he and his partner were flying in experienced engine trouble, and burst into flames.
Bronze plaques with the names of the nine officers now join the other 485 law enforcement officers whose names are inscribed on the Memorial Wall to honor their dedication to duty and the ultimate sacrifice they made.
As part of the ceremony, Sheriff Scott accepted a torch delivered by members of various law enforcement agencies following a three-day Memorial Torch Relay Run totaling 339 miles. The relay run commenced at the Sherman Block Sheriff’s Headquarters Building and traveled to each mainland Sheriff’s station. The Memorial Flame at the Los Angeles County Peace Officers’ Memorial Wall was ignited in tribute to the fallen officers.