The life of slain Los Angeles Police Department Officer Juan Jose Diaz was honored before Saturday evening’s Los Angeles Dodgers game at Dodger Stadium.
Diaz’s father, Candelario, mother, Rocio, and sisters Sarahy and Anahi and LAPD Chief Michel Moore stood along the third base line as a picture of Diaz was shown on the video board as public address announcer Todd Leitz read a biographical tribute to Diaz, which described him as “a passionate young officer who chose a career protecting others after growing up around gangs.”
“Officer Diaz was dedicated to the betterment of his community and his city and acted in this capacity both on- and off-duty,” Leitz said.
Following the ceremony, Moore tweeted, “Officer Juan Diaz truly embodied the LAPD’s commitment to protect & to serve, his dedication will not be forgotten.”
Diaz was an avid Dodgers fan. Many of the more than 100 people who gathered for a vigil in his memory the night he was killed wore Dodgers gear, reflecting his love of the team.
Diaz grew up in the northeast Los Angeles area and professed his desire as a child to become a police officer. He had been with the LAPD for about two years, and was assigned to the Special Operations Division unit of the department’s Professional Standards Bureau.
Diaz, 24, was off-duty when he was shot and killed in the early morning hours of July 27 in Lincoln Heights, where he had gone with his girlfriend and her two brothers to a taco stand.
Reputed gang members Cristian Facundo, of Murrieta, and Francisco Talamantes III, of Temecula, have been charged with murdering Diaz.
Diaz and his group spotted saw Facundo bend down and begin painting graffiti on a sidewalk across the street from the taco stand, Capt. William Hayes of the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division said. Diaz and another member of his group questioned Facundo, who became aggressive toward them and lifted his shirt to reveal that he was carrying a handgun, Hayes said.
According to Hayes, Facundo walked away briefly, and Diaz and his group decided to leave the area and got into a pickup truck. As the group was leaving the scene, Facundo and Talamantes ran along the right side of the truck, and Facundo fired several rounds through a rear window, striking Diaz and another man inside, Hayes said.
Diaz died at the scene and the other man was critically injured.
Talamantes is also charged with a count of possession of a firearm by a felon.