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Crime & Justice

Off-duty LA Sheriff's deputy pleads not guilty to murder charges

Los Angeles County Sheriff insignia.
Los Angeles County Sheriff insignia.
Photo vis conner395 via Flickr Creative Commons

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An off-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy accused of shooting a neighbor during an argument last summer has pleaded not guilty to murder charges.

Francisco Gamez II, 41, remains in jail on $4 million bail. His next court date is set for March 7.

Gamez has worked with the Sheriff’s department for 17 years; it relieved him of duty last July pending the results of the investigation into the shooting death of Armando Casillas.

Casillas, 38, lived a few houses down from the deputyin Sylmar and just a stone’s throw from his parents’ house across the street where Casillas was hanging out. That’s where his family says he got into some kind of fight with Gamez’s 20-year old son. No one has said what exactly the fight was over but a neighbor told KPCC there was alcohol involved.

A short time later, investigators say Gamez drove up to Casillas and another man and fired two shots. One hit Casillas in chest killing him.  The other man was not injured.

Gamez was arrested in November and charged with murder, attempted murder and discharging a weapon from an occupied vehicle with the allegation that he personally used a firearm to commit the crimes.

Members of the Casillas family say they’ve never met Gamez, his son or any of the family members who have shown up to previous court hearings, even though they've lived on the same block for years.

“Now we got to see what the guy looks like,” said Joseph Casillas, the eldest brother. “Never seen him in my life.”