LASD deputy murdered: Alleged killer charged with murder, pleads not guilty

The man suspected in the fatal ambush shooting of Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was charged with murder Wednesday with three special circumstances.

Kevin Cataneo Salazar, 29, entered a dual plea of not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity. In a press conference Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced the formal charges against Salazar, which include special circumstances of murder of a peace officer, lying in wait, and discharging a weapon from a motor vehicle. Salazar remains held without bail and is next due in court Nov. 7. 

During his arraignment, Salazar was restrained in what appeared to be a protective vest and chained at the waist. He hid his face behind a piece of paper during the proceeding. Salazar was being held at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles after his arrest early Monday morning at his family's home in Palmdale. 

In a press conference Wednesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said that "based on the DA's announcement today, we are hoping for nothing less than the maximum punishment available under the law for this individual."

Salazar's arrest on Sept. 18 followed an hours-long standoff with law enforcement and a manhunt that began Saturday night, shortly after Clinkunbroomer was killed near the department's Palmdale station.

Salazar's family has since spoken out, saying he has schizophrenia and was not in his right mind when he allegedly committed the crime.


Clinkunbroomer, a third-generation deputy who was only recently engaged to be married, was shot around 6 p.m Saturday while sitting in his patrol car at a traffic light near the station at Sierra Highway and East Avenue Q.

Sheriff's officials said a good Samaritan stopped to help after the shooting and the wounded deputy was taken to a hospital where he later died. 

Salazar was arrested around 36 hours later after a standoff that ended when authorities flushed him out with "chemical agents." 

Luna said "numerous firearms" were also recovered following the arrest, and that deputies seized a Toyota Corolla that was believed to be linked to the killing.

Luna said Clinkunbroomer was "murdered, ambushed by a coward."

But Salazar's mother and sister said he has mental health issues.

"My brother, he's getting called a coward," Salazar's sister, Jessica said. "He wasn't in his right state of mind."

"I do want you guys to know that my brother did have schizophrenia," she said. "He has paranoia. He heard voices. We're not justifying, we don't know if he did (the shooting), if he did not. We are not justifying anything. We feel for the family. It hurts.

"... Nobody wishes to go through that. There are a lot of people that know, have family members with the same situation will understand, will understand how it is so hard to want to help a loved one and knowing that their mind is not at the right state of mind."

She said her family is praying for the Clinkunbroomer family, but added there are "two sides to the story."

Whether Salazar's mental state will have any impact on a criminal case against him was unclear. Luna, speaking at Monday's news conference, suggested it should not make a difference.

"Whether mental health is a factor or not, think about this. If I had to go to your family and tell that you were not coming home and you were just murdered, does it matter?" Luna said.

A motive for Clinkunbroomer's killing remains under investigation.

Brittany Lindsey, Clinkunbroomer's fiancée, made a statement Wednesday, thanking law enforcement and reflecting on her relationship with her fiancé. In her statement she said:

First of all, I want to thank each and every officer from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for everything you've done for our family, the last few days. I also want to say thank you to anyone who helped solve this case.

Ryan was the best guy I've ever met. He was so thoughtful, caring, and everyone who met him or knew him loved him. I'm so happy I was able to love him. It was not long enough.

I couldn't wait to start our lives together. We were just engaged. Planning to get married and start a family. Ryan, I miss you. And I love you so much. I don't know how to live without you. I didn't ever want to imagine it. Now look down on all your brothers and sisters and blue. Keep them safe, so this never happens to anyone else. Protect them and watch over them as they continue to serve their community. Until we meet again.

Luna continues to urge the public to come forward with any information as the case remains active and ongoing.

Anyone who witnessed anything related to the shooting was urged to call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500, or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

City News Service contributed to this report.