A 16-year-old boy was charged with murder Friday in the slaying of a Downey, California, police officer who was shot to death as he sat in his car, prosecutors said.
The teen, identified as Abel Diaz, was charged with one count of murder, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. He's being tried as an adult and remains in custody with his bail level set at one million dollars.
Diaz was arraigned Friday afternoon but did not enter a plea. Clad in an orange jail jumpsuit, Diaz told his sobbing mother "I love you mom" as he was escorted away from the courtroom.
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Diaz, who has a public defender, is a week shy of turning 17. His next court appearance is Monday.
If convicted, Diaz faces up to life in state prison, prosecutors said.
"He's innocent," said Diaz's sister, Maricela Alvarado, outside the courthouse.
Alvarado showed NBC4 a text message from her brother on the night of the killing, which read, "Mari I love all y'all my homie (expletive) up n did something."
The time stamp was 11:18 p.m. - which was after the shooting and about the time the pursuit came to an end.
"His friend's the shooter, that's what he told me," Alvarado said.
On Wednesday night, 29-year-old Officer Ricky Galvez was shot and killed as he sat in his personal car in the Downey Police Department parking lot in what investigators described as a botched robbery attempt. Two individuals were approaching Galvez when the shots were fired, according to the supervising investigator, Los Angeles Sheriff's Homicide Lt. John Corina. It appears the perpetrators did not know the victim, , and did not realize he was a police officer. Galvez had just returned to the civic enter after a training session and was out of uniform.
Diaz was arrested along with two others in connection with the slaying after a pursuit and manhunt in the nearby community of Montebello. Late Friday the Sheriff's Department identified the other two men booked for murder as brothers Steven Knott, 18, and Jeremy Anthony Alvarez, 21, both being held without bail. It is expected they will be brought to court Monday, according to the Sheriff's statement.
The murder complaint against Diaz does not include a discharge of firearm enhancement, which would be expected in a filing against a defendant if the DA's office thought the evidence would show he fired. However, under the law, if someone is killed during the commission of a felony, all involved in the felony can be charged with the death.
Since the night of the killing, Galvez, a Marine Corps combat veteran in his sixth year as a Downey Police Officer, has been remembered and honored by a stream of mourners to the memorials that have grown in the Downey Civic Center courtyard and in the nearby parking area where the attack occurred.
"I was hearbroken for the family and everyone involved," said mourner Delores Ledesma. who brought a floral tribute
Friday afternoon the city of Downey announced a memorial fund to help Galvez's family. Checks payable to the Officer Ricardo Galvez Fund or cash can be donated at:
- Downey Federal Credit Union at 8237 Third St., Downey, CA 90241. Online banking transfer for members can be made at: Member Transfer > Account Number: 113988 – Suffix: S2 LL: RI
- or directed to Mike Pope, president of the Downey Police Officers Association at 10911 Brookshire Ave., Downey, CA 90241. He can be reached at 562-904-2308 or email@example.com