Shooting death of Officer Pavelka
Case against man accused of killing officer may be compromised by FBI probe, attorneys say.
Matthew Pavelka¿¿¿s girlfriend, Jessica diCristins, left, Police Sgt. Darin Ryburn, Pavelka¿¿¿s mother Sue and father Mike stand as the casket is presented at the officer¿¿¿s funeral.
The routine stop in November 2003 escalated into a hail of gunfire that left Pavelka dead and a veteran officer severely injured. The events of that night stunned the community and a police department that had not lost one of its own in a shooting since 1920.
The ensuing manhunt, which involved hundreds of local, state and federal agents, ended when the 19-year-old fugitive, David Garcia, was captured by Mexican authorities after spending two weeks in a small town south of Tijuana.
Though more than six years have passed since the 26-year-old son of a Los Angeles Police Department detective was killed, Garcia has yet to stand trial for the alleged killing.
Garcia was indicted in April 2004 on one count each of murder, attempted murder, possession of a controlled substance for transportation and five counts for weapons violations.
The trial has officially been postponed by scheduling conflicts, medical issues and, now, the latest allegations of misconduct and excessive use of force at the Burbank Police Department, potentially tainting the witness pool for the prosecution.
Despite the ongoing FBI investigation, prosecutors say they are ready to move ahead with the trial.
“The case will move forward; we just don’t know how this investigation will impact the evidence we present,” said Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Keri Modder, who is prosecuting the case. “The only idea I have of who is being investigated is what I read in the paper.”
‘His hand was out of my view’
Officer Gregory Campbell was patrolling the Ramada Inn on San Fernando Boulevard on the night of Nov. 15, 2003, and noticed two men in a black Cadillac Escalade with no plates. The windows were down and the smell of “burnt marijuana” was coming from inside the SUV, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court records.
Campbell contacted the driver, Ramon Aranda, and his passenger, Garcia. After he radioed for backup, Campbell returned and spoke with Aranda through the window.
Pavelka arrived and stood by the passenger-side window as Campbell asked Aranda to step outside.
“As he got to the ground, I noticed that his hand was out of my view, as if he was trying to pull something out of the front side, which made me think possibly he had a gun,” Campbell later testified.
Garcia told detectives that Aranda retrieved a .40-caliber handgun from between the seat and center console before getting out of the vehicle and shooting at Campbell, according to court documents filed by prosecutors. Campbell, in grand jury testimony, said he was struck and lost consciousness.
Pavelka told Garcia to put up his hands before exchanging gunfire with Aranda, who died during the shootout.
In interviews with detectives, Garcia said he took one of his handguns and fired 11 shots though his window while seated in the vehicle, according to court records. He then retrieved a second handgun and, as Pavelka dove for cover, fired another six shots at the officer as he lay on the ground, according to grand jury testimony.
Garcia fled the scene on foot.
Campbell survived his injuries, which included gunshots to the abdomen and neck. Pavelka, a Simi Valley High School graduate and Air Force veteran, was taken to an area hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
‘It will never bring back our loss’