With the deaths of three Los Angeles police officers still fresh in their minds, department brass gathered today to honor officers who died in the line of duty over the agency's 146-year history.
In solemn remarks to officers at LAPD headquarters, Mayor Eric Garcetti said the annual remembrance ceremony was "especially poignant," because of the deaths of Roberto Sanchez, Christopher Corijo and Nicholas Lee -- all killed in collision.
"We have lost not just one, not just two, but three members from our LAPD family in the last two and a half months," he said.
The ceremony included a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by Lee's daughter. Her 40-year-old father died March 3 when an out-of-control truck collided with his patrol car on steep Loma Vista Drive.
Cortijo, a former Marine and 26-year motorcycle officer, was struck from behind April 5 at a red light in Sun Valley by a woman allegedly high on cocaine and crushed against a vehicle in front of him.
Sanchez, a six-year Harbor Station patrol officer, was pursing a vehicle when a friend of the suspect crashed into the driver's side of his patrol car early Saturday, Chief Charlie Beck said earlier today.
A video tribute to 206 officers including each of their names, but Sanchez was left out because he died after the video was finished.
The video opened with the first LAPD officer killed in the line duty, Clyde A. Mays, who died Feb. 28, 1907, followed by the narrator reading through the names of 205 more, including that of Lee and Cortijo.
Police Chief Beck acknowledged that three recent deaths may seem like "just too much to bear," creating an "impossible burden."
"Our task is to live up to their sacrifice," Beck said. "Our task is to be what they would have been had they not been ripped from us far too early."
This year's ceremony included the unveiling of a sign that will be among 207 installed around the city in the next six months that highlight contributions of the fallen officers.
Each sign will bear the name of an officer who died in the line of duty and will be placed near where each died. Officers who died fighting in overseas conflicts and wars will be remembered with signs placed at the stations where they were assigned, said Assistant Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur, who emceed the event.
The first sign, already put up at Second and Main streets, honors Edmund Wilhoit, an officer killed in 1924.
Officers spent a year putting the project together, City Councilman Mitch Englander said.
A website with photos and stories about the fallen officers is expected to launched soon.—City News Service