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Campbell cleared in shooting

Mark R. Madler

A Burbank Police officer acted in self-defense in the November 2003

gun battle in a hotel parking lot in which another Burbank officer

was killed, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office

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announced Friday.

Officers Gregory Campbell and Matthew Pavelka encountered Ramon

Aranda and David Garcia on Nov. 15 in the Ramada Inn parking lot

after Campbell noticed the SUV they were in had paper plates and no

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visible registration, police said. As they approached the SUV, Aranda

and Garcia got out and opened fire on the officers, police said.

Pavelka and Aranda were both killed and Campbell was wounded.

Garcia, 21, who prosecutors have accused of killing Pavelka, got

away and was arrested two weeks later in Mexico following a manhunt

by numerous police agencies, including the Glendale Police.

The District Attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division found

that Campbell responded legally and appropriately when he fired and

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killed Aranda, of Sun Valley.

The report focused solely on Campbell’s actions, because it was

his fire that killed Aranda. The division’s report was released July

11 and the district attorney’s office will take no further action,

according to the report.

A county prosecutor and investigator go to the scene of any

police-related shooting, said Jane Robison, an office spokeswoman.

The pair look for any discrepancies between what they find in

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evidence and interviews and the version given by a police department,

Robison said.

“We are looking for criminal activity,” Robison said. "[We look

at] whether any evidence was planted or [ask] do stories match up

with evidence.”

The report wraps up a year-and-a-half investigation into the

shooting. The length of time until a ruling is made is based on the

division’s workload and how long it takes a department to wrap-up its

own investigation of a shooting and turn it over to the county,

Robison said.

The conclusion reached by the district attorney was the same as

the department’s Shooting Review Board, said Burbank Police spokesman

Sgt. Jay Jette.

“Our review of the incident was that both officers acted

appropriately and within department guidelines and were defending

themselves from two armed attackers,” Jette said.

The department released its findings in June 2004.

Garcia faces a charge of first degree murder for Pavelka’s death

and is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 10.

Garcia was also among the 43 members of the Vineland Boyz street

gang indicted by a federal grand jury in June on charges of

racketeering, murder, attempted murder, drug possession and

distribution and possession of firearms.

Pavelka, 26, was the first Burbank officer killed in the line of

duty in the department’s history.

Burbank Police were investigating this week gang graffiti found on

signs marking a portion of the Golden State (5) Freeway as the

Matthew Pavelka Memorial Freeway.

The graffiti was spotted in the early morning hours on Tuesday and

included the number “187,” a reference to the state penal code for

murder, Jette said.

There was other graffiti indicating a specific gang was

responsible, but Jette would not state whether it was the Vineland

Boyz.

The signs have been taken down and are in evidence while the

department does its investigation, Jette said.

“No one appreciates graffiti-type vandalism,” Jette said. “But

when it’s done on a monument or a memorial-type setting, it becomes

more emotional. We hope we can locate who is responsible.”

The signs were placed along the freeway between Burbank Boulevard

and Hollywood Way in November.

* MARK MADLER covers City Hall and the courts. He may be reached

at (818) 637-3242 or by e-mail at mark.madlerlatimes.com.


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