After verbal altercation, man drives truck into crowd on sidewalk – then gets pulled out and beaten to death


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HAWTHORNE, CA- According to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LAPD), a driver who was accused of trying to hit a group of people with his car over an altercation was beaten to death shortly after.

The press released stated that the incident took place at the 14200 Block of Hawthorne Boulevard in Hawthorne, California. The deceased driver has been identified as 40-year-old Melguin Lopez Santos. An autopsy is still pending regarding the cause of death. 

Santos was allegedly pulled from a truck and beaten to death after nearly striking several people on the sidewalk in front of a business. Sheriff’s officials said that Santos had an earlier verbal altercation inside a business in the 14200 Block of Hawthorne Blvd and was asked to leave, but returned driving his truck onto the sidewalk, nearly striking several patrons.

He ultimately lost control of the truck and hit a tree. According to a LAPD statement:

“Surrounding patrons attempted to take the driver out of the vehicle, but the driver was able to accelerate and drove his truck into a nearby building. Patrons again took the driver out of the vehicle and a physical altercation ensued. At this time, Hawthorne police officers arrived on scene.”

When Hawthorne police arrived on scene, they found the victim lying on the ground suffering what appeared to be blunt force trauma. Paramedics attempted to save the man with life-saving measures, but the driver was pronounced deceased on scene.

Homicide investigators with the LAPD are working with the Hawthorne Police Department (HPD) to investigate the death. The Daily Breeze reported that the majority of the people involved in the altercation were “interviewed by detectives and released, pending the result of the coroner’s autopsy.”

Lt. Hugo Reynaga of the LAPD said that the incident was captured on surveillance video, but the footage was grainy and the fight occurred behind the truck partially out of view. He added:

“You could see there was a fight going on, but you couldn’t tell who was doing what.”

Detectives are waiting for the results of the autopsy to see if the man may have suffered a medical issue during the fight that led to his death. Reynaga added that the crashes “weren’t that impactful.”

Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to contact the LAPD’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500. People can also provide information anonymously by calling Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477). 

In a separate incident, a man from Siler City, North Carolina has been charged after police say he crashed into four people at a restaurant, killing one. 60-year-old John Salvatore Graviano was booked into the Chatham County Detention Center and placed under a $1,000 secured bond.

He was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and driving left of center. Officials stated the driver was traveling west on N.C. Highway 64 when he crossed the center line and collided with a car making a left turn.

After crashing into that car, the driver continued riding into oncoming traffic before exiting the road and stopping in a parking lot. When he drove into the parking lot, he hit four people who were gathered together waiting for their meal at Johnson’s Drive In on East 11th Street.

After hitting the four people, he crashed into the restaurant. A 64-year-old man was killed in the crash. A 77-year-old woman was airlifted to UNC Hospital and is in serious condition, but is expected to live. The other pedestrians, a 39-year-old woman and an 18-year-old man, were transported to the hospital, but did not sustain any serious injuries.

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Good Samaritan: Victim of carjacking tracks down alleged murderer with baseball bat, stops suspect from fleeing

October 5th, 2021

HOUSTON, TX- According to reports, a man severely injured during a carjacking in May witnessed a similar incident on September 29th, where a woman was dragged to death by a carjacker after her seatbelt had trapped her in the Uvalde area of Houston.

The man proceeded to track down the suspect with a baseball bat, preventing the suspect from fleeing until police arrived on scene. 

On May 26th, Lewis Matos was ordering car parts at his desk at AAMCO Transmissions in the Uvalde area of Houston when a car burst through the wall sending Matos flying across the room and trapping him underneath his desk. 

The impact knocked Matos from his chair and pushed the drywall, windows and debris on top of him. Matos said:

“I started to hear gunshots.”

Later, Matos learned that he was caught in the middle of a carjacking. According to police, Juan Mendez and Jaritza Chavarria were behind the carjacking. After crashing into the building, investigators stated that Mendez tried to shoot the victim. Matos said:

“Here I was laying on the floor in horrific pain. I was pinned by this desk.”

Five months later, Matos is still suffering from injuries related to the crash. On September 29th, Matos was in the Uvalde area and witnessed another carjacking in action when he allegedly 55-year-old Marcus Wayne Brock forcibly remove 41-year-old Jessica Garza from her car. Matos said in a statement:

“I jumped in my car, I didn’t even think. All I kept thinking was ‘he’s not getting away.'”

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) said Garza was dragged for roughly four or five blocks as the suspect crashed into six different vehicles, killing Garza. Brock sped down the block while the driver’s side seatbelt trapped Garza. Once the car stopped, Brock began to flee the scene. 

Houston Police Department Captain Belinda Null said in a statement:

“Unfortunately, she was deceased due to the accident and the fact that she was unable to get herself out of the vehicle due to the seatbelt.”

Matos added:

“I was mortified. When I picked up that piece of signage that was on top of her in the car and I saw what he did to her, I was enraged.”

Matos continued to look for Brock while wielding a baseball bat and found him inside a close-by liquor store. Matos stood with his bat in hand and blocked Brock from exiting until police arrived. Matos said:

“It gets kind of tedious watching everybody always getting away.”

According to a tweet from the Houston Police Department, Brock has been charged with capital murder. Court records show he has a long rap sheet dating back to 1985 with charges ranging from drug possession to burglary. 

Family members want people to know that Garza had a huge heart and was loved by all who knew her. Her daughter posted a loving tribute on GoFundMe. She wrote:

“Life without my mother is definitely going to be a challenge. She made me out to be such a strong woman and I know the Lord will continue to give me the strength to get through this tragedy. I have to be there for my two younger brothers and my loving father. She made such an impact on everyone. She touched the hearts of everyone she met.” 

As of this writing, donations on the GoFundMe page tally $24,583, which is north of the family’s $20,000 goal. 
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Highway trooper dies after being struck by armed suspect with lengthy criminal record in carjacking pursuit

August 1st, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV- The Clark County coroner has identified the man involved in the fatal shooting that took place on July 27th on Interstate 15 near the U.S. 95 as 60-year-old Douglas Joseph Claiborne.

According to reports, his official cause of death was gunshot wounds to the head and torso and his death has been listed as a homicide.

Nevada Highway Patrol stated that they were in pursuit of a possible armed carjacking suspect when the driver hit one of their troopers who was putting stop-stick on the interstate. That trooper, 46-year-old Micah May, was rushed to UMC Trauma where he was in critical condition.

On Thursday, July 29th, trooper May reportedly succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. May served 13 years as a trooper and is survived by his wife and two children. The Injured Police Officer Fund (IPOF) has established a fund to assist May’s family during this difficult time.

In a statement, Director George Togliatti said:

“Trooper May’s heroism exemplified the definition of a silent guardian. His dedication and service will never be forgotten. Our hearts go out to his grieving family and recognize the unique sacrifice to the state of Nevada. My thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones.”

Governor Steve Sisolak said he and his wife were saddened to hear of May’s passing. Sisolak said in a statement:

“Micah passed away while bravely protecting his community and while he has reached his end of watch, his heroic actions and contributions to the State of Nevada will never be forgotten. Kathy and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, his family, his loved ones, and the entire law enforcement community during this incredibly difficult time. May he rest in peace.”

After hitting the trooper, Claiborne was shot by Nevada Highway Patrol troopers and pronounced dead at the scene. 

According to authorities, the pursuit began near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the incident resulted in the closure of the interstate for several hours. Claiborne as a record of being arrested prior to this incident.

A previous arrest report shows that he was arrested at The Venetian hotel-casino on March 10, 2020 for spitting on an officer. The charge was later dropped in June 2020. Claiborne had a Hawaii’s driver license when he was detained in 2020.

According to reports, his criminal history in Hawaii extends to at least 2002 when he was sentenced to 30 days in jail on a misdemeanor battery charge. Then, in 2004, he was charged with felony assault and assault of an officer; making a terror threat; possession of drugs of a prominent danger; and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Claiborne pleaded guilty to all except assaulting an officer, a charge that according to court records, prosecutors did not pursue. He was sentenced to five years in jail and five years of probation.

Honolulu attorney Victor Bakke represented Claiborne on and off for 15 years and said that all of Claiborne’s encounters with the criminal justice system were drug-related. 

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the officer-involved shooting that unfolded on the interstate. Metro clarified in a statement that no Las Vegas police officers discharged their firearms during the shooting.

Across the valley, law enforcement agencies expressed their condolences to May’s family. The Nevada Highway Patrol tweeted:

“With heavy hearts, we confirm the loss of…Trooper Micah May #6203.”

The NYE County Sheriff’s Office posted a statement:

“NYE County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and the entire NYE County Sheriff’s Office staff express condolences to the Nevada Highway Patrol and Trooper May’s family. Nevada Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol Micah May #6203 tragically passed away today after serving 13 years with the DPS Highway Patrol.”

In a tweet, the FBI in Las Vegas said:

“@FBILasVegas sends our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and co-workers of @NHPSouthernComm Trooper Micah May #6203.”
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Officer down: Michigan State Police K9 killed in crash caused by suspected drunk driver

July 26th, 2021

FLINT, MI – A suspected drunk driver crashed into a parked Michigan State Police vehicle earlier in July, killing the MSP K9 inside of the vehicle while also injuring a state trooper.

The driver and two other occupants in the vehicle were also severely injured in the crash, with authorities saying that one of the driver’s occupants is not expected to make it.

At approximately 1:05 a.m. on July 25th, an MSP K9 unit was parked along the M-10 highway, directing traffic to the offramp due to the flooding that was on the highway.

According to the MSP, a vehicle that was “traveling at freeway speed” collided with the MSP unit on the highway.

The unidentified trooper “sustained non-life threatening injuries to his legs”, according to officials, but K9 Rex suffered injuries to the spine and legs from the impact. K9 Rex was transported to Blue Pearl animal hospital where he subsequently succumbed to his sustained injuries.

A series of tweets from the MSP Metro Detroit’s official Twitter account noted that the driver of the vehicle that caused the crash was believed to have been intoxicated during the incident:

“The driver of the suspect vehicle is believed to be under the influence of alcohol. He has serious injuries. The female front seat passenger has critical injuries. The female rear seat passenger also has serious injuries.”

“Troopers and the MSP Crash Reconstruction team investigating the crash and have obtained a blood draw which will be tested for alcohol.”

The driver and two female passengers inside of the vehicle were all transported to an area hospital following the crash.

In an update provided by the MSP, the trooper has been released from the hospital while the driver and their occupants are still hospitalized:

“Update: The trooper has been released from the hospital. He does not appear to have any major injury. The suspect is currently in surgery for his leg and hip. One passenger is still in the ER and listed as stable. The second passenger is in the ICU and is not expected to survive.”

Officials have forwarded the blood draw from the driver over to the lab and are awaiting the results from the test and will hand the results over to the prosecutor to determine next steps regarding the driver.

No identifying details regarding the trooper or the driver and passengers have been shared by officials as of this writing.

This is an ongoing investigation.

Please follow Law Enforcement Today as we continue to gather further insight into this developing case.

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Earlier in July, we at Law Enforcement Today shared the saddening news of another K9 that died in the line of duty in Missouri. 

Here’s that previous report. 


ST. JOSEPH, MO- K9 Officer Max, of the St. Joseph Police Department (SJPD), was fatally shot in the line of duty on June 30th, when he was brought in to help officers responding to a call of domestic violence in south St. Joseph. 

Authorities stated that officers with the Special Response Team (SRT) were called out to 5108 Barbara Street around 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 30th to execute a search warrant on domestic abuse.

When responding officers attempted to breach the back door, the suspect, who was armed, ran out another door of the house and fatally shot Max during the escape. 

Max was a 2-year member of the force and served on the SRT assisting in calls to help apprehend dangerous felons. He was partnered with Officer Lucas Winder. In press release, the department said:

“Max performed his duties heroically and protected the lives of others on scene.”

According to reports, the suspect, 24-year-old Valdez McDonald, had barricaded himself inside. Police said McDonald was wanted on a third-degree assault charge for allegedly beating his mother, slamming a two-by-four into the back of her head and smashing her against the wall.

K9 Max was rushed to an emergency veterinarian in Kansas City, but died of his injuries. McDonald has since be arrested and charged with armed criminal action in addition to the domestic charges he was already facing.

Buchanan County Prosecutor Ron Holiday stated that the maximum sentence for the combined charges could be 19 years in prison. 

In a Facebook post on July 1st, SJPD wrote:

“It is with great sorrow we must say goodbye to Max, our loyal and courageous teammate and friend who gave his life in the line of duty. We extend our deepest sympathies to his handler and partner, Officer Lucas Winder. Max made the ultimate sacrifice and we are eternally grateful.”

The St. Joseph Post reported that Officer Winder said that working alongside K9 Max was “like taking your best friend and kid to work every day.” He added:

“It’s funny because my wife or someone else would try and talk to him, he would just laser-beam focus on me. You could just tell our bond was just there. Unbreakable. It was beautiful. The kid was always there for me.”

Officer Winder said that every day he worked with K9 Max was a blessing and that he is grateful for the time they had together. SJPD Police Chief Chris Connally said whether it be two legs or four, Max was one of their own and losing him was a very painful experience. He added:

“When we lost Max, we lost an officer and it hurts…he was one of our own.”

Connally said Max lived out his sworn duty as a St. Joseph police officer right until the very end. He added:

“We as police officers are sworn to protect and serve and Max did exactly that. As trained and true to his mission, he did his job and while doing it likely saved our officers and maybe even the perpetrator.”

Winder said the time that has followed Max’s death has been a “day-to-day battle,” but he thanks the community for the outpouring of support he has received. K9 Max’s memorial service was held on July 9th. He added:

“I couldn’t even tell you the amount of calls and texts I’ve received. Not just from this jurisdiction, but nationwide. It’s been beautiful to see everyone come together.”

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Back in April, we at Law Enforcement Today shared a report of a Bakersfield Police K9 that was fatally shot in California. 

Here’s that previous report. 


BAKERSFIELD, CA – According to a press release, a Bakersfield Police Department K9 passed away on the evening of April 27th after reportedly being shot by a suspect involved an allegedly stolen vehicle incident that turned into a pursuit.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

Officials say that on the evening of April 27th at approximately 8:43 p.m., Bakersfield Police officers attempted to conduct a stop along Highway 58 regarding a vehicle that had been previously reported stolen.

The driver of the vehicle reportedly refused to stop for officers, and allegedly drove off of the highway and crashed into a chain link fence, which rendered the vehicle inoperable thereafter. The suspect was said to have then fled they disabled vehicle on foot.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office reportedly offered aerial support to help locate the suspect, which the subject was reportedly found in the backyard of a home located within the 2000 block of Feliz Drive.

A BPD K9 handler along with his partner, identified as K9 Jango, were said to have approached the suspect located in the backyard of the residence and the suspect reportedly opened fire.

Unfortunately, K9 Jango was struck by the gunfire, and the K9 reportedly succumbed to his injuries after being transported to an emergency veterinarian hospital.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

Following the gunfire from the suspect, two officers on site were said to have returned fire on the man. Medical aid was also provided to the suspect, but the individual reportedly died at the scene.

BPD officials related that the incident is still under investigation and more details will be released later on down the road.

It was noted that a firearm was recovered from the suspect and that both officers who discharged their firearms were wearing body-worn cameras at the time.

The name of the deceased suspect involved in the incident has not been released as of this writing.

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
K9 Jango – BPD

According to K9 Jango’s online profile from the BPD’s website, the following is noted about his work with the department: 

“Officer Mueller and Jango became partners in March of 2017. Jango is from the Netherlands and his commands are given in Czech. Jango is training to locate and apprehend criminals and also trained in explosive detection. When off duty, Jango loves to chase tennis balls and beg for treats.”

Officer Down: Bakersfield PD K9 murdered after being shot by suspect in a stolen vehicle
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