COMPTON, Calif. – With tensions simmering in Compton, the city’s mayor, Aja Brown, denounced the ambush attack on two L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies Saturday night that happened at a Metro station, just blocks from her City Hall office.
“Obviously we’re devastated by this incident. It’s something that is not indicative of the relationships in the city of Compton or the community of Compton or its 100,000 residents,” Brown told Spectrum News 1 via Zoom.
The mayor acknowledged that some in her community are now afraid violence will escalate in the coming weeks. But she said she feels hopeful that won’t happen, placing faith in her constituents.
“I’ve received nothing but just best wishes for the deputies that were impacted. Our community is resilient and resolved at staying peaceful and ensuring we can move our community forward,” Brown said.
She said her city’s attention is focused on ensuring the suspect who committed the heinous crime is caught and brought to justice.
Brown added that she is also intent on getting answers and action from the Sheriff’s department regarding claims of gangs within the Compton station and the open investigations into the shooting deaths by deputies of Dijon Kizzee in nearby Westmont, and of Andres Guardado.
“One thing I think is important to state is this one incident is not indicative or does not negate the fact that there is still a gang running rampant in Compton station. The city of Compton invited Sheriff Villanueva to a community meeting and he did attend and made commitments that he would implement reforms throughout the department. It’s something that we have yet to see.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department has been committed to reform and that he was the first sheriff to institute a policy prohibiting the formation of subgroups or cliques. He has already transferred some of the deputies out of the Compton station and said he is working on trying to recruit people born and raised in Compton to serve as deputies there.
“These are things that no one has done before. So for someone to claim there aren’t reforms they’re willfully ignorant or they’re covering their eyes and their ears and they won’t accept reality. We’re reforming the department. The department of 2020 is not the department of December 2, 2018,” Villanueva said.
The sheriff added that his focus is on the manhunt for the shooter who injured his deputies and said the investigation has promising leads. He said his heart goes out to those deputies and their families as they start a long road to recovery, and he was inspired by surveillance video after the incident that showed the female deputy bleeding and badly hurt, but still tending to her colleague's wounds as they waited for help.
Villanueva said all his deputies were on high alert, their heads on swivels, in the wake of the ambush.
After the incident, the sheriff said he got calls from President Trump and presidential candidate Joe Biden but has yet to hear from Brown.
“I would have liked to have heard from the mayor on the day of the shooting," Villanueva said. "It would have been nice for her to go to the hospital to show her concern for the safety of what amounts to employees that were working in Compton.”
Brown said she doesn’t want an impasse with the Sheriff’s department and said she believes there is a way to rebuild trust and collaboration.
“I believe there is always a pathway forward,” Brown said. “When the Sheriff's [department] came into the city of Compton, the city of Compton had challenges with its own [police department]. They’ve been able to come into the city of Compton and make some progress but in any relationship, there is a need for continual evaluation and recommitment to the core values of that relationship.”