LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Prosecutors say that the individuals responsible for the brutal slaying of an off-duty LAPD police officer in July are now facing murder charges. 

A report from CBS 2 News said that Cristian Facundo and Francisco Talamantes III were each charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder as well as a special circumstance allegation of murder.

Another woman at the scene, Ashlynn Smith, faces one count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and vandalism and one count of accessory after the fact. Talamantes was charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Police Officer II Juan Diaz

Police Officer II Juan Diaz (LAPD/Flickr)

 

If convicted, the defendants could face the maximum penalty of a life sentence without the possibility of parole, though a decision to look at whether to seek the death penalty will be made at a future date, officials said.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said that members of the justice system with “never tire until we prosecute the vicious criminals responsible for this horrific tragedy.”

 

Police say Diaz was at a taco stand with his girlfriend and her two brothers when a group of young men approached them and began making threats.

One of the men reportedly claimed his allegiance to a gang, then told Diaz’s group they were in his territory before lifting his shirt to display a handgun.

Police sources told local media outlets that Diaz, his girlfriend, and her brothers tried to leave in their car to avoid confrontation.

That’s when the gunman is said to have opened fire – just as they were getting into the vehicle.

Diaz was killed and his girlfriend’s brother was injured.

“It is with deep, deep sorrow that we are here this morning to provide you with preliminary information on the death of an off-duty Los Angeles police officer which has occurred in the area of Avenue 26 and Figueroa,” said acting police Chief Beatrice Girmala following Diaz’s death.

Girmala said a civilian flagged down a member of the Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer just before 1 a.m. the night of the shooting and told officers shots were fired in the area.

That officer called for backup and responded to the area of Avenue 26 and Artesian Street – that’s where he found two male victims with gunshot wounds.

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Diaz died on the scene – his girlfriend’s brother was taken to the hospital.

Girmala said the department has committed all available resources and support services possible to bring justice.

“They are committed to doing a thorough, fair investigation that will lead us on the road to justice for what has occurred here today,” Girmala said.

LAPD Headquarters put out a statement on the Saturday after the murder.  They said Diaz had only been with the department for two years and was most recently assigned to Professional Standards Bureau.

Mayor Eric Garcetti expressed his condolences on social media.

“Angelenos are waking to the tragic news that one of our own @LAPDHQ officers was taken from us in a senseless murder,” he wrote. “Words cannot match our sorrow or ease the shock we feel over this reminder of the dangers that officers face every moment they wear the badge. This City will stand with the officer’s family every step of the way, and will not rest until we find and prosecute a vicious killer. My Crisis Response Team has been sent to comfort and assist the family at this moment of unthinkable grief.”

 

A solemn procession took place as Diaz’s body was taken to the coroner’s office.

Law Enforcement Today will continue to follow this trial as it progresses.

 

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