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Shot LAPD officer expected to fully recover; one suspect arrested

August 26, 2011 | 12:45 pm

Photo: Shooting scene. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5. The Los Angeles police officer shot during a seemingly routine pedestrian stop on Thursday underwent surgery and is expected to make a full recovery, a hospital official said. 

Police said they had recovered the gun likely used in the shooting and arrested one man on suspicion of being involved in the attack.  At least one other suspect was still being sought.

Following surgery Friday morning to repair bullet wounds to his right hand, the officer was “alert and awake” and “in good spirits,” said Dr. Gudata Hinika, chief of trauma at California Hospital Medical Center.  The officer, Hinika said, is expected to be discharged on Saturday and faces months of intensive physical therapy before returning to work.

The Times is withholding the name of the officer, who has been in the LAPD for seven years, at the request of police officials, who are continuing to assess whether releasing his name would jeopardize the safety of him or his family.

The shooting took place about 2:45 p.m. Thursday as the officer and his partner, driving an unmarked police vehicle, investigated a rash of car burglaries in the Hyde Park neighborhood, said police Chief Charlie Beck.  Driving along Western Avenue near 70th Street, the officers, who were uniformed, stopped their car to question two men.  As the officers approached, one of the men pulled out a handgun and opened fire.

The wounded officer was struck twice in the torso and would have been seriously injured had he not been wearing a ballistics vest that absorbed the impact of the bullets.  A third bullet struck him in the hand and wrist.

The shooting prompted a massive response by the Los Angeles Police Department, as well more than 100 officers locked down a wide swath of the area and launched a door-to-door manhunt for the suspects.  Several people were taken into custody throughout the night.  After questioning from police, one man found inside the search area was arrested and booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, said Beck and LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith.  It was not clear what led police to arrest the man and whether he is suspected of being the gunman, Smith said.

“We are still working to determine his level of involvement,” Beck said.

Speaking outside the hospital Friday, Beck said a handgun recovered at the scene was “very likely” the one used in the shooting but that ongoing forensic testing was needed to say definitively.

Hours after the shooting, another LAPD officer responding to a radio call in Wilmington suffered a minor injury when a man hit him in the arm with a sharp object.  The man was killed when police shot him.

The 125 serious assaults on city police so far this year marks a nearly 30% jump over the same period in 2010, Beck said.

Both suspects in the Hyde Park shooting are described by police as African American men with medium heights and builds. The shooter was said to be 18 to 20 years old and the other man was described as 18 to 25 years old.  Police officials ask that anyone with information on the shooting call (800) 222-8477.


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-- Joel Rubin (twitter.com/joelrubin)

Photo: The shooting scene. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5.