[9/22/20] – Two Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputies Shot and Critically Injured in Ambush

Two deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were shot at around 7:00 PM on Saturday, September 12 at a Compton Metro station south of Los Angeles. In a press conference, Sheriff Alex Villanueva discussed the circumstances surrounding the ambush. The deputies, a 24-year old man and 31-year old woman who had recently graduated from the academy, were shot while seated in their patrol vehicle. Surveillance video shows the suspect approach the patrol vehicle from behind and then fire multiple rounds from the passenger side before running away. In a statement to ABC News, Sheriff Villanueva said that the female deputy, despite having been shot multiple times, was able to walk around and assist her partner before radioing for help. Both deputies underwent emergency surgery at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood and are expected to recover, although the long-term impact of their injuries are not known at this time.

The suspect has not been identified or apprehended. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department put out a bulletin with the suspect’s description and an offer for a $100,00 reward for information pertaining to suspect. That reward has since increased to $175,000 due to private donations. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a tweet, also announced that they have “offered their resources and stand ready to assist” the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in their investigation. The attack, according to NPR, comes “at a time when the department has been stretched thin” due to protests and the Bobcat Fire.

The attack on the deputies has been denounced by many, including politicians and the community. Sheriff Villanueva, who referred to the attack as “cowardly,” is also urging members of the law enforcement community to “watch each other’s back” due to worries about further attacks on law enforcement officers. Soon after the news of the ambush was released, protestors gathered outside of the hospital where the two deputies were being treated. According to the Associated Press, the protestors tried to provoke the deputies outside of the hospital and also blocked the entrance to the emergency room, with reports that some were chanting “I hope you f— die.” A female radio reporter from KPCC was reportedly arrested outside of the hospital for allegedly interfering with the arrest of a protestor and for not having proper credentials. However, both the reporter and KPCC disputed those statements and further explained that the reporter’s “arrest is the latest in a series of troubling interactions between our reporters and some local law enforcement officers.”

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom.

The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.



  • Writing: Explain how the ambush against the deputies and the subsequent protests at the hospital further illustrate the divide between the law enforcement community and the public.
  • Debate: Journalists provide an essential service; without them our democracy is at risk. (Agree or Disagree)
  • Poll: Police officers put themselves at risk for injury or death more than any other occupation in the United States. (Agree or Disagree)*
  • Short Answer: Put yourself in the shoes of a law enforcement officer. How would you react to an incident such as this? Would your methods of policing change?

*After the poll, show students the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The rate of fatal injuries for law enforcement is higher than the average American worker. However, workers in the logging and fishing industries have a higher risk for fatalities than any other occupation in the United States. Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Police Officer Fact Sheet; BLS, National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2018

Cover Image: Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office

Which component of the criminal justice system would you like to see more coverage of in future Lecture Sparks?

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