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LAPD Officer, Suspect Injured in Gunfight

Violence: The off-duty detective is shot three times during apparent attempted robbery at Brand Park.

June 30, 1997|CLAIRE VITUCCI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MISSION HILLS — An off-duty Los Angeles police detective was wounded in the arms and legs late Saturday when he exchanged gunfire with a man who allegedly demanded the officer's wallet, police said Sunday.

Det. William Cooper, a seven-year veteran assigned to the Devonshire Division, suffered three gunshot wounds while sitting in his car at Brand Park about 11:20 p.m. He was taken to Northridge Hospital Medical Center by paramedics and released Sunday morning, police officials said.

The suspect, Albert Darcey Medina, 35, of Sylmar, suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his upper body but was able to flee with Cooper's wallet, authorities said.

Medina, who was taken to the hospital by unidentified people shortly after being shot, was in serious condition at Holy Cross Medical Center late Sunday. He was under police guard.

He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of a police officer and may face additional charges, said Officer Scott Meadows of the LAPD's Foothill Division.

The case will be presented to the Los Angeles district attorney's office today or Tuesday, said Officer Helen Lloyd, an LAPD spokeswoman.

Lloyd said Cooper was sitting in his car at the park in the 15100 block of San Fernando Mission Boulevard when Medina allegedly approached, pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and demanded Cooper's wallet. Cooper identified himself as a police officer and managed to draw his personal weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, she said.

Police said it remained unclear Sunday how the shooting started or who fired first. They were unable to say why Cooper was in the park.

Lloyd said the officer-involved shooting team of the LAPD's Robbery / Homicide Division will investigate the incident. The Foothill Division will investigate Medina's alleged crimes, she said.

Many of Cooper's co-workers learned about the shooting at roll call Sunday morning. Senior Officer Amby Owens said Cooper's peers were shocked to hear about the shooting and said the detective was not the type to incite an argument.

"He's very easygoing," Owens said. "He's one of those officers who always has a smile on his face. He offers a helping hand to everybody."

Officials said Cooper would be expected back at work when he has recovered from his wounds. He will likely do desk work before returning to full duties, they said.

Lloyd said the way off-duty officers react when confronted by a gunman depends on the circumstances.

"What you want to do is to get out of that situation," she said. "Officer Cooper felt in this situation he could arm himself."

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