Forty of Los Angeles County's independent cities employ Sheriff's Department deputies to keep the peace. Perhaps El Monte ought to be added to that list.
The consideration arises from a tragically botched Aug. 9 drug raid in Compton by the El Monte Police Department's version of a SWAT team. The incident left the 65-year-old patriarch of a family dead from two gunshot wounds in the back during a dramatic shoot-the-locks-off-the-doors raid. El Monte police described the operation as an effort to "further their investigation." It occurred after the arrest of a suspected drug dealer, Marcos Beltran Lizarraga, and the confiscation of cash, marijuana and weapons at locations frequented by the suspect.
But the supposed drug connection to the Compton home of Mario Paz, the slain grandfather, seemed tenuous. A search warrant said that police expected to find marijuana and drug profits there.
The FBI and the Sheriff's Department are now investigating the incident, and they need to cover a lot of ground. El Monte police said that they had no information tying Paz or his family to drug trafficking, before or after the shooting. Then why the nocturnal raid?