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Memorial Plaque Honoring Murdered Deputy Jerry Ortiz Given Back To Family After Hawaiian Gardens Council Vote

Hawaiian Gardens City Councilman Barry Bruce says he has “A real problem that every year we memorialize Deputy Jerry Ortiz death.”


Outspoken Hawaiian Gardens City Councilman Barry Bruce says he has “A real problem that every year we memorialize Deputy Jerry Ortiz’ death.”

By Brian Hews

The Hawaiian Gardens City Council has voted to halt construction on a memorial plaque to honor slain Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Jerry Ortiz who was tragically gunned down in the tiny one square mile municipality in 2005.

The decision to scrap the idea was made during a brief fifteen minute meeting of the city council two weeks ago after Ortiz’ widow sent a letter to the city asking that the project be stopped.

With his voice cracking, a tearful Mayor Mike Gomez read a statement at the meeting that said “unfortunately, there is a member of the family who still blames to city (of Hawaiian Gardens) for the death (of Deputy Ortiz) who has fought to not have this memorial placed in the city limits.”

Gomez went on to say that “Sheriff Lee Baca has called us to honor this person’s wishes.  This afternoon I received a call from Jerry’s mother and brother who expressed their gratitude for our efforts, but asked that we pull the plaque from the project to avoid any controversies.”

Gomez told the council that the memorial plaque had already been completed, and in his formal motion asked that the “city present it to the family at the Jerry Ortiz Boxing Gym in El Monte.”

The mayor also said that he was committed to “work with the family to recognize this tragedy.”

City Councilman Barry Bruce, who also serves as a Pastor at Way Out Ministries in Hawaiian Gardens said he “didn’t know the family member, I don’t know the nature of their feelings, that the City of Hawaiian Gardens is still responsible for the death of his brother.”

“But I have to speak to the issue because it has bothered me for a long time in this city and it continues to bother me, so I will continue to be politically incorrect, which I am known for. The fact that there are Memorials for Jerry Ortiz in many places, including at the Lakewood (Sheriff’s) Station, at the Star Center, and these are all very good places for Memorials for an officer, those are right and good places for a Memorial to be (placed),” Bruce said.

“I was never for the idea of the plaque being placed at the Public Safety Center for Jerry Ortiz because I want the Public Safety Memorial to be for any and all officers and for any and all firemen, which was the original intent of it being put there,” Bruce continued.

“I have a real problem that every year we memorialize Jerry Ortiz death, again and again and again and again with many Sheriff’s from all over coming (to Hawaiian Gardens), and even helicopters coming and doing a dip over the top of the house where he was killed years ago,” Bruce said.

“As far as I know, and maybe you guys can correct me, I think that is unprecedented in cities as a whole. I don’t understand why this city, any why you Mr. Mayor (Gomez) continue to, but I understand your heartfelt loss for a mother and the family for their loss, but we are a city and the purpose of a city council is to make sure that we move forward and goes on, and that the community heals, and not that we recognize our city every year as being a cop killer city.”

“I really think that this city moves on, and puts this event in history and again, for those who want to remember Dep. Ortiz there are many places to go to leave memorials and flowers.  But, the city needs to move on, and stop having so many Sheriff’s come every year and go to the very house that he was killed and put flowers on the lawn.  I mean, it is a rented house, somebody lives there, it is not even the same group of people,” Bruce said with his voice elevating.

“The killer is in jail for life, and it saddens me to hear that Jerry Ortiz’s sibling faults the City of Hawaiian Gardens for his death of his brother, and I think that is part of our own fault for perpetuating this ongoing memorial forever,” said Bruce who was elected in 2009.

“It is not the cities fault, it is a city, and it is a city of thousands of people and one person, in our city of thousands, committed this heinous crime, and he was arrested for it, but our city continues to be stained over it, and I have a hard time over that,” Bruce said.

“We did nothing as a city to make this happen, a person made this happen, and I think the constant reminding of this to newspapers, and other cities and families, that this happened here, I think perpetuates it,” Bruce ended.

Gomez said he would not “respond” to Bruce’s assertions or claims and the meeting was quickly adjourned.

This map shows the incorporated areas in Los A...

This map shows the incorporated areas in Los Angeles County, California. Hawaiian Gardens is highlighted in red. I created it in Inkscape using data from the Los Angeles County Website (Los Angeles County Incorporated Area and District Map (PDF). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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