Published: Wed, February 22, 2017
National | By Glenda Ortiz

Whittier police officer killed in shootout, second officer and suspect injured

Whittier police officer killed in shootout, second officer and suspect injured

The Whittier Police Department mourning the loss of one of its own, a 27-year veteran of the force, gunned down Monday morning in a traffic stop shootout with a gang member who was paroled about ten days ago.

Police said the shooter accidentally rear-ended another auto on Mar Vista Street and Colima Road and was attempting to get help to move his vehicle to the side of the road when the two officers approached.

The gunman suspected in the shooting death of Whittier police officer Keith Boyer was an AB 109 probationer, the controversial program that mandates early release for nonviolent offenders, according to media reports.

Lt. John Corina of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Homicide Bureau said Mejia was released from state prison in April 2016 following a grand theft auto conviction in 2014. One officer was pronounced dead at a hospital. After getting out of the vehicle, he asked the occupants of a auto he hit to help him push the vehicle out of the intersection, a sheriff's news release stated. They asked him to get out of the vehicle, and were going to pat him down to check for weapons, according to Corina.

"He was the best of the best", Whittier Police Chief Jeff Piper said through tears during a Monday news conference. It was a fitting outpouring of grief and support for the officer who died in the line of duty, for fellow Officer Patrick Hazell, who was wounded in Monday's gunfight, and for the whole department.

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Los Angeles County booking records show Mejia was arrested by law enforcement five times since July.

Officials said the driver confronted the officers and opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun.

His name was not released, and his condition was not immediately available.

But Piper and McDonnell criticized laws created to reduce the state's overcrowded prison population by moving some inmates to county jails and effectively reducing some sentences or providing early release. "It's not good for our community, its not good for our officers", Piper said.

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