Southern California breaking news and trends

LA County DA will not charge man accused of threatening kids following Newtown shootings

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Terrapin Flyer/Flickr

A Pomona man's Facebook threats against students in the Los Angeles Unified School District weren't specific enough to warrant criminal charges, the L.A. County District Attorney has determined. The man told investigators that he'd intended to joke about how tired he is of seeing other posts about Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

The Los Angeles County  District Attorney's Office declined to file charges against Kyle Bangayan, a 24-year-old Pomona man arrested Sunday for allegedly making criminal threats against L.A. school kids.

The D.A.'s office said the three Facebook postings that attracted police attention were not specific enough to constitute a crime.

In three posts, Bangayan allegedly wrote that he was sick of reading Facebook messages about the shooting at Sandy Hill Elementary in Newtown, Conn. The DA's filings said the posts "state that if people don't stop posting about the shootings, he will do the same thing." 

Bangayan allegedly wrote that thousands of children die in Third World countries every day, and that Americans "need to get over" the incident. 

Questioned by officers with LAPD's Northeast Division, Bangayan allegedly said the postings were "a joke" and that he "got some laughs" from his friends about them.


LAPD scales back its participation in Secure Communities

Los Angeles Police Foundation's 10th Annual Fundraising Gala

Toby Canham/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told the L.A. Police Commission that his department is changing its policy toward the federal Secure Communities program.

The Los Angeles Police Department will no longer detain some undocumented suspects on behalf of federal immigration authorities, the L.A. Police Commission decided Tuesday.

The commission made that change at the request of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. He told commissioners that L.A. should lead the way in correcting flaws in the federal Secure Communities program. Under that program, local law enforcement agencies automatically share fingerprints of anyone they arrest with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE then has the option of asking police to detain arrestees for 48 hours so the immigration agency can begin deportation proceedings.

LAPD Assistant Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission the program is ICE's "primary engine for the identification and removal of criminal aliens and others who pose a threat to public safety." But the LAPD's six-month survey of ICE detetainer requests indicated that 10 percent were for people who had no criminal histories and were arrested on suspicion of low-level nuisance crimes like drinking in public or sidewalk vending. Based upon the department's survey,  about 340 fewer people would be detained each year.


UPDATE: LA County sheriff's deputy charged with murder for fatal shooting in Sylmar

LA County Sheriff Patrol Vehicle

Courtesy LA County Sheriff's Department

LA County Sheriff's Department patrol vehicle.

UPDATED 11:36 a.m.: Los Angeles County Deputy Francisco Gamez II has been charged with murdering a neighbor who had fought with his adult son last June.

The district attorney's office says Gamez, 41, was charged Thursday morning with murder, attempted murder and discharging a weapon from an occupied vehicle.

Authorities say Gamez's 20-year-old son had an altercation with 38-year-old Armando Casillas and the son called Gamez. The deputy is accused of driving to the scene, confronting Casillas and another man and firing two shots. Casillas died and the other man was not hit.

Gamez was arrested Thursday. If convicted, he faces a maximum prison term of 75 years to life in prison.

PREVIOUSLY: LAPD detectives on Wednesday arrested a 17-year veteran of the  L.A. County Sheriff's Department on suspicion of homicide.


LAPPL joins the spray of 'bath salts' warnings

bath salts synthetic drugs

Photo by governorandrewcuomo via Flickr

The Los Angeles Police Protection League is in a lather over the growing use of so-called "bath salts" — the new synthetic street drug — and has joined a wash of warnings in the wake of audio released this week allegedly involving synthetic drugs and the bank executive who claims he was beaten by the LAPD.

The LAPPL's post follows an L.A. Times story earlier in the week noting nationwide poison control centers statistics regarding calls about synthetic drugs.

A White House-issued "Synthetic Drug" fact sheet cites the number of calls related to bath salt exposure "increased by more than 20 times in 2011 alone, up from 304 in 2010 to 6,138," according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

A federal ban on synthetic drug ingredients MDPV (methylenedioxypyrovalerone) and mephedrone was signed by President Obama in July.


Multimillion-dollar settlement for gang member could be appealed


Andres Aguila/KPCC

Members of the Budget and Finance Committee want to a appeal a jury's $5.7 million verdict for a gang member who was shot and paralyzed by Los Angeles police.

Plans to appeal a $5.7 million settlement for a gang member who was shot and paralyzed by Los Angeles police are moving ahead. 

Following a closed session, members of the L.A. City Council's Budget and Finance Committee agreed to appeal the civil judgment awarded to Robert Contreras. The motion to appeal was forwarded to the full council. 

A jury handed down the settlement after city council members declined to approve a $4.5 million offer supported by the City Attorney’s Office. The Los Angeles Police Department determined officers acted within policy when they shot Contreras, believing his cell phone was actually a gun. At the time, Contreras was fleeing a drive-by shooting, for which he was later convicted of attempted murder. 

After the council rejecetd the $4.5 million settlement, councilman Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, said: “It’s really a question of trying to do what’s right in pursuing justice. And to stand up for the officers who put their lives at risk."