News / With Extended VIDEO Coverage

A Week After Fred Taft's Murder In ELB's Pan Am Park:

  • PD Says No Suspect Identified, It's Investigating/Reluctant To Confirm/Deny Bias/Hate Crime For Now Until It Has More Evidence;
  • First PD Unit Dispatched From Distant Broadway/Cherry But Nearer Unit Intercepted The Call, Time From Dispatch To First Unit Arrival Was Approx Five Mins;
  • Multiple Residents Cite Lack of Visible Police Presence;
  • Councilwoman Acknowledges No Working Cameras In Park, Says Mayor's New Budget Will Propose More Cameras (No Specifics), Doesn't Indicate If She'll Move To Restore Officers Beyond Current Level
  • Separate Grassroots Memorial Ceremony/Rally Strikes Unifying Tone; Neighbor Sets Up Go-Fund Me Page For Family

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    (July 29, 2018, 10:48 a.m.) -- With Mayor Robert Garcia (who recommends annual city budgets) not present, and Councilwoman Stacy Mungo (who with a Council majority can change proposed budgets) the only elected official visible, it fell to LBPD East Division Commander Erik Herzog and Deputy Chief Wally Hebeish to update residents a week after Fred Taft was shot to death on July 21 while using a restroom at ELB's Pan American Park (5100 E. Centralia) during an annual family gathering:

    The Lakewood Village Community Church was filled for the 9 a.m. July 28 community meeting. provides extended on-demand video coverage below allowing our readers to see/hear what took place unedited/unfiltered.

    Among the significant points:

    • No suspect has been identified. (LBPD confirmed to that its July 26 statement remains accurate that the suspect is a white man in his 50's.) (Commander Herzog also explained in general investigative terms why composite sketches and initial descriptions sometimes aren't advisable depending on the status of the investigation.

    • Two LBPD Detectives, whom Commander Herzog described as among the Department's best, are working the case.

    • LBPD remains reluctant at this point (so as not to prematurely box itself into a specific scenario) to confirm or deny that the murder was or wasn't a hate/bias crime until it has more evidence. Commander Herzog said LBPD is continuing to gather evidence in its investigation.

    • Family members made clear that the only plausible reason they can find for Mr. Taft's murder at this point is because he was Black. They note that he wasn't robbed and they don't believe he knew the murderer; one family member said the killer wielded a long gun of some type [latter point not confirmed by LBPD] and believes the killer may have planned a mass shooting at the event. Another suggested that the FBI should be asked look into the killing as possible domestic terrorism [Commander Herzog indicated that step is premature at this point.]

    • LBPD's first dispatched unit was from the [distant] Broadway/Cherry area, but in a clarifier to after the meeting Commander Herzog said a nearer unit (in LBPD's beat south of Spring St.) heard the radio dispatch call and "took the call" (intercepted the dispatched call, a common practice) and headed Code 3 (lights and siren) to the park.

    • The response time from dispatch to arrival for the first LBPD unit on-scene was approximately five minutes. [As separately reported by, LBPD says that within about a minute of receiving calls reporting the shooting, it began airing reports to field units regarding a possible suspect [no details provided but apparently some initially varying accounts.]

    • Commander Herzog noted that three other East Division policing-relevant events were taking place on Saturday July 21: a concert drawing a large crowd to a beach location; an event in El Dorado Park; LBPD alerted to some possible gang activity [no location given.]



    The first audience speaker said there appeared to be a lack of pro-active policing. His comments were echoed later by a number of other audience comments describing what residents called a visible police in the area. Commander Herzog responded to the first speaker by saying "proactive" policing is taking place and indicated the mix of calls for service vs. self-initiated policing was roughly 50-50. [ note: LBPD doesn't decide the number of officers available or not available for LBPD to deploy; the City Council decides this when it adopts City Hall's annual spending budget. LB's current Mayor/Council has restored 17 citywide deployable officers out of 208 erased by previous Mayors/Councils. Also erased and not restored: nearly a dozen Park Rangers; for FY18, the Council budgeted only two Park Rangers citywide.


    Under questioning by residents, recently re-elected Councilwoman Stacy Mungo acknowledged that there are currently no working cameras in Pan Am Park. After noting that there are various types of cameras, and government cameras are controversial among some community members (privacy vs. safety), Councilwoman Mungo said Mayor Garcia has indicated cameras will be in his recommended FY19 budget [no indication of number or type or locations or timeline.] Councilwoman Mungo didn't indicate if she plans to seek to restore any additional citywide deployable police officers for taxpayers beyond current levels, an opportunity she'll have (as will other Council incumbents) after Mayor Garcia recommends a FY19 budget on July 31. A Council majority will decide the police staffing outcome, subject to a Mayoral veto that six Councilmembers can override.



    The LBPD community meeting was followed by a grassroots Memorial Ceremony and Unity Rally in nearby Pan Am Park. provides extended VIDEO below. The event, attended by family members and friends, appears to have been organized in part by veteran L.A. area activist Najee Ali.

    Mr. Ali, who lives in San Pedro, indicated he was troubled by the absence of LB Mayor Garcia and other LB elected officials at the event [we spotted one non-elected LB Commission member, an ELB resident] but struck a unifying tone in his remarks. Mr. Ali indicated he agrees with family members that Mr. Taft was killed was because he was Black, but he [and a speaker introduced as Brother Earnest] said what took place isn't a matter of politics or religion but a matter of right and wrong. A number of attendees wore blue T-shirts declaring "All Lives Matter."

    The most emotional moment came when Mr. Ali invited Mr. Taft's daughter to say a few words...and she was simply unable to speak. [We saw a number of people tearing up at that point.] Other supporters spoke for her.

    Among those speaking (visible near end of the video) was Steve Garcia, a neighbor who with his wife set up a Go Fund Me page for the family at

    "[Mr. Taft] leaves behind his daughter Corie and two grandchildren. We are raising funds to help Corie, his only daughter, with funeral expenses. We are all praying the killer will be found and justice will be served. Feel free to share this so we can help Corie and her children in this difficult time. Please keep all of the Taft family in your thoughts and prayers," the page says.

    As of the morning of July 29, it had raised nearly $3,000 of its $10,000 goal.

    VIDEO: July 28 Memorial Ceremony / Unity Rally re Murder of Fred Taft

    Related coverage:

  • LBPD Confirms Pan Am Park Murder Suspect Is White Man In His '50s But Says Detectives Haven't Found Evidence of Hate Crime Although Evidence Is Still Being Collected And Analyzed

  • Family, Friends Gather At Pan Am Park Murder Scene, Fondly Recall Fred Taft

  • Flashback: On Memorial Day 2010,Two People Were Shot/Wounded At An Annual Event In Pan Am Park

  • Coroner Identifies Man Murdered At Pan Am Park As A LB Resident

  • Man Is Shot To Death At Afternoon Group Event At Pan Am Park (Old Lakewood Village, 5th dist.)
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