Two men accused of fatally shooting a Downey police officer in a botched robbery attempt pleaded guilty on Monday to murder and several other felonies related to a series of crimes committed over three months in 2015, Los Angeles County prosecutors said.
Steven Knott, 22, of Montebello pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted robbery for opening fire on Officer Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez as he sat in his personal car in the police station parking lot on Nov. 18, 2015. Jeremy Anthony Alvarez, 25, pleaded guilty to a count of second-degree murder and attempted robbery in connection with the slaying, prosecutors said.
The duo, who are half-brothers, also pleaded guilty to charges arising from an attempted murder in Montebello on Oct. 18, 2015, and shooting at an inhabited dwelling in South Gate on Sept. 17, 2015, as well as a takeover robbery of two victims at a Bellflower cellphone store and a street robbery in Paramount shortly before Galvez was killed, prosecutors said.
The pair admitted to making multiple firearms enhancements and to allegations that the crimes were committed in association with members of a criminal street gang.
Knott and Alvarez face 50 years to life and 30 years to life in state prison, respectively. They are expected to be sentenced on April 17 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Galvez, a former Marine and five-year veteran of the Downey Police Department, was sitting in his personal car dressed in plainclothes after working with the department’s K-9 team when he was fatally shot.
Alvarez, the getaway driver, was arrested after a wild pursuit involving a Downey police officer who heard the gunshot in the area of the parking lot and began chasing the Nissan Altima. Knott and a 16-year-old boy were arrested the next morning.
The teenager subsequently admitted a Juvenile Court petition charging him with Galvez’s murder, a robbery and an attempted robbery. He faces confinement in a state juvenile facility until he is 25.
Downey police Lt. Brian Baker testified during a hearing in 2017 that he walked out to the parking lot to investigate what happened after speaking on the phone with another officer, who had chased the light-colored Altima to Montebello.
The police lieutenant said he did not initially recognize Galvez or his car, and only realized that the victim was his colleague after looking through the vehicle’s windshield.
“That’s when I recognized it was Ricky. When I recognized him, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” Baker said.
Baker said he saw the BMW running and noticed a bullet hole in the driver’s side window, then directed a sergeant to break the passenger window of the locked car. The sergeant determined that the officer was dead.
When he was shown a photograph from surveillance camera footage in the parking lot, the teenager admitted that he and Knott had approached the BMW — one from each side — while Alvarez remained inside the Nissan Altima, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Biddle testified in 2017.
The teenager subsequently was tape-recorded in jailhouse conversations in which he admitted to being involved in the crime and saying that the three formulated a plan to rob Galvez, but that the gun had gone off accidentally, Biddle said.
City News Service contributed to this report.