Car Crushes Off-Duty Deputy as He Tries to Arrest Juveniles

Times Staff Writer

An off-duty Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was seriously injured Wednesday afternoon when he was crushed by a car being driven by youths he was trying to stop in the Buena Park Shopping Mall parking lot.

Richard K. Kendall, 26, of the Lakewood station, was evacuated by helicopter to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. Buena Park police spokesman Terry Branum said Kendall was in guarded condition with head and internal injuries.

Branum said Kendall and an off-duty Baldwin Park police officer, Kevin Gauthier, were walking to their car in the mall parking lot about 2:45 p.m. when they saw three juveniles allegedly trying to steal a tape deck from a parked car.

The officers identified themselves and ordered the youths to surrender, Branum said, but the three instead ran to their nearby car and tried to drive off. Kendall, in an effort to halt the fleeing suspects, was clinging to the driver's door, Branum said.

After going about 75 yards in the parking lot, the car plowed into a curb, said Branum. Kendall was thrown forward into the wall of a large department store, and the car, still moving, pinned him against the wall.

Gauthier, the Baldwin Park off-duty officer, ran to the scene and held the three juveniles in custody until Buena Park police arrived. They were being held at the Buena Park Jail on suspicion of aggravated assault and later were to be booked into the county's Juvenile Hall without bail, Branum said.

Because of their ages, the identities of the three suspects were withheld. Branum said the car driver was 17 and from Cypress. The other two arrested youths were a 17-year-old from Buena Park and a 16-year-old from Cypress.

Branum said Kendall has been with the Los Angeles County sheriff's office for about five years.

Devotion to Duty

Lt. David Rosenberger, watch commander for the Lakewood Sheriff's Station, said Wednesday night that Kendall's action in trying to apprehend the suspects showed the deputy's devotion to duty.

Kendall, who lives in La Mirada, was at the Buena Park Mall shopping with his friend Gauthier when the chase incident occurred, Rosenberger said.

"He (Kendall) is a good young officer with lots of promise, and everybody in our community who's dealt with him really thinks highly of him," said Rosenberger. The lieutenant added that Kendall, a bachelor, "has grown up with the (Los Angeles County) Sheriff's Department."

Kendall first joined the department as a 19-year-old intern in the Norwalk station, Rosenberger said. Kendall served as an intern from 1978 to 1980, when he became a full-time deputy.

"He (Kendall) has a quick smile and a bubbly personality," said Rosenberger. "What we're hearing from the doctors (at Western Medical Center) is encouraging tonight. It appears Richard's going to make it, and that's great because I know this afternoon that the paramedics at the scene sure wouldn't have bet on it."

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