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Thursday, May 9, 2019

By Staff Reports


COMPTON—Since its incorporation in 1888, the City of Compton has been serviced by two law enforcement agencies, the Compton Police Department, and beginning in 2000, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. In more than 130 years, five officers have fallen in the line of duty. Last week, Compton Station unveiled a memorial wall honoring officers who died in the line of duty serving their city, all since 1962.

Thanks to the efforts of retired Sergeant James Rewald, Deputies Javier Flores (Aero Bureau), Steven Kankiewski (Aero Bureau), and Jesse Carrara (Compton Sheriff’s Station), their vision for a place of honor was masterfully realized, dedicating the memorial, “Honoring Our Fallen.” Chief Eli Vera, who worked at Compton Station early in his career, participated in the unveiling.

Police Officer Dess K. Phipps was killed in an automobile accident during a high speed pursuit October 12, 1962, and passed away that day. He was 37 years-old and had served in the U.S. Navy from June 16, 1943 until December 29, 1944, in World War II.

Police Officer Ralph Kay Reeves suffered a heart attack on April 04, 1967, while struggling with a student at Compton High School. He was dispatched to respond to the school to investigate reports of an intoxicated student. The student began to struggle with Officer Reeves and a group of other students began to surround the two as they tried to take the subject from Officer Reeves' custody. As other officers arrived Officer Reeves collapsed. The other officers were able to pull Officer Reeves to safety and called an ambulance. He was transported to a local hospital where it was learned that he had suffered a heart attack. His condition never improved and he died as a result on March 26th, 1968.

Officer Reeves was 50 years-old and survived by his wife, four children, and three grandchildren. Officer Reeves' brother, Patrolman Richard Vance Reeves, was killed in the line of duty on October 2nd, 1957, while serving with the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.

Police Officer’s James Wayne MacDonald and Kevin Michael Burrell were shot and killed while conducting a traffic stop at the intersection of Rosecrans Avenue and Dwight Avenue on February 22, 1993. He died that day.

The suspect was a parolee with a gun. He was able to break free as the officers attempted to handcuff him. He fired at both officers with another gun he still had concealed on his person. The suspect was arrested and convicted of murdering two police officers and received the death penalty.

Officer MacDonald was 24 years-old and had served with the Compton Police Department for 18 months. He had recently been hired by another agency. This was his last night on patrol in Compton. He was survived by his parents and brother.

Officer Burrell was 29 years-old and had served with the Compton Police Department for five years.

Sergeant Alfonso Lopez suffered a fatal heart attack while responding to assist other deputies who were involved in a high speed pursuit in Compton at approximately 5:20 a.m. October 24, 2016. Shortly after he responded from the station a citizen came into the lobby to advise deputies a patrol car had crashed at the intersection of Myrrh Street and Willowbrook Avenue. The driver was unresponsive. Deputies responded to the location and began performing CPR on Sergeant Lopez. He was transported St. Francis Medical Center where he passed away.

It is believed that Sergeant Lopez suffered a fatal heart attack prior to his vehicle colliding with a fence at low speeds. The pursuit he was responding to was terminated shortly after it began due to the dangerously high speeds of the fleeing vehicle.

Sergeant Lopez was 47 years-old and had served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department for 26 years. Prior to his assignment at Compton station, Sergeant Lopez had worked at Special Victims Bureau for the majority of his career. He is survived by his wife and two adult children.