Hearing set for alleged cop killer

The man accused of killing a Burbank police officer in 2003 could finally head to trial after attorneys on both sides told a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Friday that they were ready after years of legal wrangling.

David Garcia, 27, faces one count each of murder, attempted murder, transportation of methamphetamine and five counts of weapons violations, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

A pre-trial hearing was set for Oct. 26 and the jury trial could be scheduled to begin within 90 days.

Prosecutors say Garcia shot and killed Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka, 26, in the parking lot of a Ramada Inn as he went to the aid of Officer Gregory Campbell in a drug-related incident.

Garcia was the passenger in a black Cadillac Escalade that both officers had made contact with. Garcia allegedly shot at Pavelka several times. Campbell was shot in the abdomen and neck by the driver.

Pavelka died at a local hospital.

Now, eight years later, with a trial poised to take place, the stage is set for some amount of closure — not only for the Pavelka family, but for the Police Department.

“What we need to do is bring closure for the family and the department,” Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse said. “This is a good thing; there will be some finality to it.”

Pavelka’s family could not be reached on Friday.

County Deputy District Atty. Frank Tavelman said the FBI investigation of the Burbank Police Department for excessive use of force, and a separate internal probe into a 2007 Porto’s Bakery robbery, delayed the case, but a final review of the documents is now complete.

“I don’t believe any material witnesses will be affected by the Porto’s case,” Tavelman said.

A federal case that found nine members of the Vineland Boyz gang guilty of federal narcotics, weapons and violent crime offenses was concluded in 2006. Seven of the nine men were convicted of being involved with a racketeering enterprise.

Prosecutors in that case said the gang was tied to the killing of Pavelka.

Tavelman said the racketeering case was another reason for the delay because evidence from that case needed to be provided to Garcia’s defense team.

Garcia’s attorney, Frank Disabatino, could not be reached Friday.

Prior to Pavelka’s death, a Burbank police officer had not been lost to a shooting since 1920.

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