A 17-year-old and two men accused of shooting and killing a Downey police officer last year pleaded not guilty Friday to criminal charges.
Officer Ricardo Galvez, 29, was shot and killed in an attempted robbery Nov. 18 as he sat in his car outside department headquarters. Shortly after, police arrested Steven Knott, 18; Jeremy Anthony Alvarez, 21; and Abel Diaz, 17, in connection with his death.
The three are each charged with one count of special circumstance murder and one count of attempted second-degree robbery. The murder count includes the special circumstance allegation of murder during an attempted robbery.
Galvez had just returned from a police dog-training session a mile away -- he was not wearing his uniform and didn't have his gun on him -- when he was killed. A Downey patrol officer pursued a Nissan leaving the parking lot north to Montebello.
When three suspects jumped out of the vehicle, the driver was arrested. The two others escaped, but were captured nearby the next morning, authorities said. Initially, the shooting sparked fears that Galvez had been a victim of an ambush, but authorities later realized the attack was a botched robbery by assailants who didn't realize he was a police officer.
The two men and 17-year-old admitted to trying to rob Galvez, authorities said.
Knott, Alvarez and Diaz will return to court Feb. 5. If convicted, Knott and Alvarez could face the death penalty if prosecutors decide later to seek it. Diaz, because of his age, faces up to life in state prison if he is convicted as charged.