A Los Angeles man was charged Tuesday with trying to kill two officers at the LAPD’s Harbor Station in San Pedro, including one who was pistol-whipped and another with whom he exchanged gunfire.
Jose Cerpa Guzman, 29, was set to be arraigned Tuesday at the Long Beach courthouse on two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a semiautomatic firearm, along with one count each of second-degree robbery, evading and resisting an officer, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He could face a potential life prison sentence if convicted as charged.
Guzman walked inside the police station and got into a verbal altercation with an officer shortly before 10 p.m. Saturday, left the building, then returned and allegedly began attacking the officer.
Guzman grabbed the officer’s gun and struck the officer with it several times, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Security video showed the suspect pistol-whipping the officer in the head multiple times with the officer’s own gun after the officer went out to meet with him in the lobby of the station at 2175 John S Gibson Blvd. The suspect then pointed the weapon at the officer and ran out the door.
While Guzman was outside the station, shots were exchanged between the suspect and a second officer who arrived in the lobby, but no one was injured in the gunfire, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Guzman, who fled from the scene, was found a short time later and allegedly resisted arrest, according to the District Attorney’s Office. He has remained jailed since then in lieu of $2.2 million bail.
It was unclear how the suspect got inside the station. Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told reporters that LAPD stations are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but officers do answer the door when there’s a knock.
The injured officer was expected to make a full recovery, the police chief said. The officer, whose name was not released, has more than 30 years of service with the department.
The attack came two weeks after a pair of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies were injured in Compton in an unprovoked shooting at a Metro station as they sat in their patrol vehicle.
City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the 15th Council District and was an LAPD officer for 15 years, said: “What happened here at the police station was horrible but something horrible is happening in our country. There is too much of a divide in our values in law enforcement. Let’s be reminded. Our police officers are our angels in the City of Angels. They protect us.”
The San Pedro incident came in the wake of a recent intensification of protests across the Southland that have raised questions about the role of police in the community, and treatment of minority groups by law enforcement.
On Tuesday, Moore told the Police Commission that assaults against police officers have risen 156% compared to this time last year.
The chief said 282 felony assaults have taken place against LAPD officer compared to 110 this time last year. He also said most of the incidents took place during ongoing protests against police brutality that began in late May.