NORWALK, Calif. (FOX 11 / AP)
A 17-year-old boy and two young men accused in the shooting death of an off-duty Downey police officer during an apparent botched robbery pleaded not guilty Friday.
Steven Knott, 18, and Jeremy Anthony Alvarez, 21, are charged with capital murder and attempted second-degree robbery in the Nov. 18 killing of Officer Ricardo Galvez, an ex-Marine who survived combat in Iraq and
The murder count includes the special circumstance allegation of murder during the commission of an attempted robbery. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against the two.
Co-defendant Abel Diaz, who turned 17 a week after he was charged, is facing one count each of murder and attempted second-degree robbery. The charge against him also includes a special circumstance allegation
of murder in the commission of an attempted robbery, but Diaz is not eligible for the death penalty because of his age. He could face up to life in state prison if convicted of the killing.
The criminal complaint also includes gang and gun allegations against the three. They are due back in court Feb. 5.
Galvez, 29, was fatally shot about 11 p.m. Nov. 18 while sitting in his BMW 335, clad in street clothes, in a public civic center parking lot adjacent to the Downey police station in the 11000 block of Brookshire Avenue. The five-year department veteran died at the scene.
Alvarez, the alleged getaway driver, was taken into custody following a police pursuit that ended in the 1000 block of Carob Way in Montebello soon after the shooting. He was caught by officers as he tried to run through the backyards of some homes.
Authorities said the other two suspects were seen fleeing into a nearby home and taken into custody by members of a sheriff's special weapons team after warrants were obtained.
Outside the Downey courthouse in November, Diaz's sister said her brother told her he did not shoot Galvez. Maricela Alvarado showed reporters a text message Diaz sent her about 20 minutes after the shooting. "Mari I love all y'all," the message read. "My homie (expletive) up n' did something."
Investigators believe the suspects were out to rob someone and were unaware that Galvez was a police officer or that they were in a rear parking lot of the police station, sheriff's Lt. John Corina told reporters last month
at police headquarters.
A handgun allegedly discarded by one of the suspects was recovered. Investigators believe it was used to kill Galvez, according to the sheriff's department.
Downey police said Galvez was on duty and returning to the police station from a training program during which he acted as a K-9 agitator.
Corina said a Downey police officer in his patrol vehicle heard the shooting and chased the suspect vehicle into Montebello, where the suspects bailed out. At the same time, another Downey officer came outside and found the fatally wounded officer.
Referring to Galvez as "Ricky," Downey police Chief Carl Charles described the officer as "a tremendous young man, who loved serving the residents of Downey."
Downey police spokesman Lt. Mark McDaniel said Galvez is survived by his mother, a brother, and two sisters. Galvez was in the U.S. Marine Corps prior to becoming a police officer, serving two tours of duty, one in Iraq, one in Afghanistan.