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Hundreds bid goodbye at funeral for slain Downey police officer

Hundreds bid goodbye at funeral for slain Downey police officer
The honor guard escorts the coffin of slain Downey Police Officer Ricardo Galvez during funeral services at the Cathedral of Our Lady Of Angels in Los Angeles. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Several months ago, when Downey Police Officer Ricardo "Ricky" Galvez pulled over an older woman with an expired vehicle registration, they got to talking.

Her husband had just died and she just couldn't afford the registration, she told him with tears in her eyes. Galvez let her go with a warning. The next day, Galvez "showed his true measure as a man of good will" by paying for the registration himself, Downey Police Chief Carl Charles said.

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It's that generosity and humility that those who knew Galvez will remember most, Charles told the hundreds of people gathered in downtown Los Angeles on Monday to pay their final respects to the 29-year-old officer, who was fatally shot during what authorities have described as a botched robbery.

Galvez was shot the night of Nov. 18 while sitting in his BMW in a parking lot next to the Downey police headquarters. He had just returned from a police-dog-training session.

Galvez's assailants were trying to rob him and did not realize he was an officer, officials said. At the time of the shooting, Galvez, a five-year veteran of the department, was on duty but not wearing his uniform and did not have a gun.

At his funeral Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, colleagues said they preferred to dwell on Galvez's life rather than on how he died.

Standing near the black hearse carrying Galvez's casket, an emotional Downey Police Lt. Mark McDaniel said his department, where everyone knows each other on a first-name basis, was "absolutely devastated" after "losing our brother."

"Anger will come tomorrow," McDaniel said. "Today is about remembering a brother, honoring a brother and celebrating his life. The case will begin again tomorrow, and the anger will set in, there's no doubt about that."

Detectives believe that Abel Diaz, 16, and Steven Knott, 18, approached Galvez in his car and that Jeremy Alvarez, 21, acted as the getaway driver, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. John Corina has said. The three face murder and robbery charges, as well as gun and gang allegations. Diaz was charged as an adult. The three are expected to be arraigned Dec. 17.

The last time a Downey police officer was killed in the line of duty was in April 1981, when Officer Wayne Richard Presley was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

Under a bright blue sky Monday morning, Downey police cruisers and fire trucks lined Temple Street outside the cathedral. Church bells chimed, and the sun glinted off officers' badges as they saluted Galvez's flag-draped casket.

Inside, photos showed the young man with a big smile. A floral arrangement shaped like a badge bore his badge number: 172. The pews were filled with hundreds of uniformed officers from across the Southland and as far as Chicago and New York. In the front row, his mother and siblings sat solemnly, staring straight ahead.

Galvez, a Marine, was deployed twice overseas, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and became a Downey police officer in 2010. He was described as a jokester with a ready smile, who used to practice using handcuffs on his younger sisters when he was in the police academy.

As he addressed the audience in the pews, Downey Mayor Luis Marquez said, "This is a place I never imagined I would be standing at as mayor of the city of Downey, mourning the loss of one of our own. ... Those who loved him have lost a thoughtful, loving, funny, passionate young man."

Charles, the police chief, said Galvez planned to become a police canine handler and that he prided himself on keeping his uniform spotless and staying in top-notch physical shape.

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Galvez's friend, Downey Officer Andrew Lofquist, fought tears as he spoke, his voice shaking. Lofquist said Galvez would sit next to him at officer briefings and jokingly try to hold his hand under the desk. Lofquist would push him away, but he'd just keep trying, grinning.

They laughed often, he said, but conversations with Galvez always turned heartfelt. Since the officer's death, Lofquist said, officers have found themselves bragging about their friendships with him, trying to one-up each other with stories.

"He embraced love and lived with his heart on his sleeve," Lofquist sad. "He went through the peaks and valleys of life wholeheartedly."

Lofquist recalled watching Galvez' favorite movie, "End of Watch," as Galvez quoted lines aloud.

As officers seated behind him wiped away tears, Lofquist, "in true Ricky fashion," quoted the movie: "I am fate with a badge and a gun. Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed, I think, I love, and, yes, I can be killed."

Twitter: @haileybranson

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