LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Members of the Los Angeles Police Department were in mourning on Saturday following the death of a fifth officer in the past two months.
The most recent casualty was that of LAPD Southwest Detective Ernest L. Allen Sr., whose pickup truck was struck after a cement truck overturned on Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills on Friday afternoon around 2 p.m.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck headed to the scene shortly after the news broke of the detective’s death.
“I asked. I called back. I drove out here myself, and I still didn’t believe it. It is just too horrific for words,” he said during a news conference on Friday.
Allen was a 27-year veteran of the department, whose previous assignments included the 77th Street Area, Wilshire Area, Rampart Area and Southwest Area, according to the LAPD. At the time of the crash, Allen was off-duty.
Beck said of Allen, “I’ve known him for several decades. He’s a fine family man and he will be sorely missed.”
CBS2’s Art Barron said the Friday crash was being investigated by the CHP and the Beverly Hills Police Department.
He spoke with Officer Ronald Roberson, an Allen friend and colleague for 27 years.
“He was also my classmate,” Roberson said, “from January of 1987. Great guy. Everybody loves him. He loved people. He loved the community that he serves.”
Councilman Bernard Parks said his heart went out to Chief Beck.
“No chief of police should have to go through this at this time,” said Parks, himself a former Los Angeles Police Chief (1997-2002).
Friday’s crash marked the third in a two-month period involving a runaway, heavy size truck. As a result, the city of Beverly Hills placed a moratorium preventing large trucks from traveling the roadway for the next thirty days while authorities investigate.
Last week, a cement truck overturned and hit several parked cars, and on March 7, a large truck hauling trash struck the patrol car of Officer Nicholas Lee, who was killed. Lee was a 16-year veteran of the LAPD.
In all, the department has lost five officers within the past two months.
Officer Roberto Sanchez was killed last Saturday when his squad car was intentionally rammed by an SUV in Harbor City. The 32-year-old was newly married.
Officer George Nagata, a 35-year-veteran of the force, died last Friday after falling ill on duty. It’s believed he had a heart attack.
On April 5, motorcycle officer Chris Cortijo was hit by an SUV while at a stop light in Sun Valley. The 51-year-old officer died four days later. The person accused of hitting him was allegedly high on drugs at the time of the crash.
The LAPD said that Detective Allen is survived by his 95-year-old mother, two children, two grandchildren, a sister, and a fiancé.