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Long Beach Cop Killer Sentenced to Die

A judge calls the gang member coldblooded and heartless. The slain officer and his partner had stumbled onto a gang confrontation.

May 10, 2003|Hilda M. Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Calling him a coldblooded, heartless killer, a judge sentenced Ramon Sandoval Jr., 21, to death Friday for murdering a Long Beach police officer who happened upon him and fellow gang members three years ago.

"He satisfied his own intentions with reckless disregard for all others and the law, with a cold detachment to the deaths he caused," said Judge Joan Comparet-Cassani.

Officer Daryle Black and his partner, Rick Delfin, both members of the Long Beach Police Department's anti-gang unit, came under attack in April 2000 when they drove into the 1900 block of Lime Avenue, an area known for gang activity.

Prosecutors said the officers stumbled upon Sandoval and other heavily armed gang members who were seeking revenge on a rival gang member.

Sandoval recognized the unmarked police car and opened fire with an assault rifle.

Delfin, who managed to drive a block down Lime Avenue to evade the hail of gunfire before backup arrived, suffered a head wound and shattered knee. He survived.

Black died early the next day. He was the first officer to be shot to death in the city in almost 25 years.

Black's older brother, Connell, gave a barely audible, emotional statement before the judge delivered the sentence in Long Beach Superior Court.

"People here have been impacted in one way or another," he told the courtroom full of police officers and the Sandoval family, who listened teary-eyed.

"I feel sorry for the mother, father, brothers and sisters" of Sandoval, he said.

"It's just caused immeasurable harm to them. As far as Mr. Sandoval, there's nothing more I can say; he made his choice."

Sandoval, a Compton gang member, also was charged with the attempted murder of Delfin and assault with a deadly weapon for wounding a pregnant woman, who was hit when bullets pierced her home.

Delfin, who now works in the office on homicide cases, said outside the courthouse that his life also "has been changed in the fact that I no longer am able to serve on the streets of Long Beach. I'm not a full-functioning police officer here in the streets. Every day that eats at me."

Defense attorney James Bisnow objected to the characterization of his client as coldblooded and asked the judge to reconsider the penalty.

"This is not a cold-blooded person," he said, conceding the fact of the crime.

Still, he said, "There is no need to kill him in return."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Kevin McCormick disagreed.

"There are all kinds of disagreements as to whether the death penalty has a deterrent effect," he said.

"I think it does, but that doesn't really matter. It has a deterrent effect on [Sandoval]. He will never do it again."

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