‘He was truly America’s police chief,’ former deputy says of Daryl Gates

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

At former LAPD Chief Daryl F. Gates’ funeral Tuesday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, his longtime attorney, Jay Grodin, told mourners that Gates did not avoid the tough path.

Immediately after the video of Rodney King’s beating became public, Gates was advised that it would be better for him if he came out tough on the officers.

Grodin recalled Gates response to those advisers was “to go pound sand.”

“These officers are entitled to a fair and impartial investigation,” Grodin recalled Gates saying.

Uniformed officers, politicians and the LAPD’s top brass turned out for Gates’ funeral. He died this month at the age of 83 after a short battle with cancer.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson also addressed the gathering.

“No man, no institution is perfect,” Wilson said. “But Daryl Gates and the department he molded far exceeded excellent.”

Former Deputy Chief Mike Hillman said “nothing more hurt him than to see an officer killed.”

“It broke his heart when he handed that flag to a young widow,” Hillman said of the tradition at a police officer’s funeral.

Hillman said in the days before Gates’ death, an LAPD helicopter hovered by his hospital window. Gates rose from his bed, put on his SWAT hat and stood to attention. He became emotional, Hillman said.

Gates told one of those present “there’d be heck to pay” if word of his emotional reaction got out.

“While Daryl Gates was in the hospital, you’d have thought there was a police convention,” Hillman said of the scores of officers who visited him.

“He was the chief to police officers,” Hillman said. “He was truly America’s police chief.”

In the courtyard after the funeral, a rifleman discharged three volleys, as is tradition for a fallen officer. A brief peel of cathedral bells followed, and bagpipes played taps.

The LAPD airplane division flew in the “missing man” formation over the honor guard. An end-of-watch broadcast played over the speakers from LAPD communications for Daryl Francis Gates, serial number 6432, referring to him as “The Chief.”

The bells tolled again.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck then handed the U.S. flag to Gates’ daughter Debbie. Other flags were given to his daughter Katherine, son Scott and brother, retired Capt. Steve Gates.