A field training officer of the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Police Division was killed Friday, April 29th, after he attempted to stop a pedestrian who allegedly stole the officer’s patrol car near the airport and drove it over a sidewalk curb and into a fire hydrant with the officer holding on to the door.
Tommy Scott, 35, of Los Angeles, was the first LAX police officer to die in the line of duty in the 59-year history of the Airport Police Division, airport officials said.
He was killed instantly in the crash, which occurred shortly before 11 a.m. on Lincoln Boulevard, north of the LAX airfield, said Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) spokesman Lt. Paul Vernon.
Scott was on patrol on Lincoln Boulevard when he had an encounter with a pedestrian, identified as William Sadowski, 46, alleged to be a transient in the Venice area.
Vernon said Sadowski was being held at the Los Angeles County Jail.
Sadowski was charged with murder Tuesday, May 3rd.
LAX police captain Greg Staar said Scott, who joined the LAX Police Division in October 2001, was a popular officer who was well liked and well respected by his fellow officers from the airport police force.
“He was a great guy and we’re really going to miss him,” Staar said. “He was really someone who exemplified the type of police officer who shows what this department is really all about.
“This is a major loss.”
Police are still unsure what prompted Scott to stop Sadowski and question him on the eastbound side of Lincoln Boulevard near McConnell Avenue.
During the encounter, a struggle occurred in which Sadowski allegedly pulled away from Scott and somehow ended up in the patrol car, Vernon said.
As Sadowski drove away at high speed, Scott grabbed onto the driver’s side of the vehicle, attempting to disable it and regain control, but the officer was dragged with the car and was killed when it collided with the fire hydrant, Vernon said.
Sadowski then abandoned the police car and allegedly tried to carjack passing vehicles on Lincoln Boulevard before commandeering a red Ford Expedition.
He allegedly drove the vehicle 300 yards east on Lincoln Boulevard and lost control, crashing into and over an airport perimeter fence.
The vehicle rolled over and landed on airport property, trapping Sadowski inside.
City of Los Angeles Fire Department emergency personnel removed Sadowski, who was taken to UCLA Medical Center, where he was treated for non-life- threatening injuries.
No one else was injured during the incident.
As a member of the more-than-300-officer airport police force, Scott was a “leader and a team player” who always tried to help in situations when someone was in need, Staar said.
“He had the respect of everyone he came into contact with.”
One of Scott’s primary responsibilities as a field training officer was to train the department’s new hires from the police academy.
“Officer Scott was one of the most respected and admired officers on our force,” Airport Police Chief Bernard J. Wilson said.
“He presented the face of the airport police as it should be.”
Scott “always had a smile” and was the type of person who looked at the positive side in any situation, Staar said.
“He was one of the guys who everyone knew and wanted to work with,” he said.
After the April 29th crash, Lincoln Boulevard was closed for most of the day in both directions between Westchester Parkway and Sepulveda Boulevard. Airport operations were not affected by the incident.
Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton appeared at a press conference at LAX Friday, April 29th, to offer condolences.
Scott graduated from Rio Hondo Police Academy in February 2002. Before joining the airport police, he was an aquatic supervisor for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.
Scott is survived by his father, Hubert Scott; stepmother, JoAnn Carter-Scott; and brother, Hubert Scott Jr.
A formal police funeral service with full honors for Scott is scheduled at 9:30 a.m. Friday, May 6th, at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., downtown Los Angeles. Burial is scheduled immediately following the funeral service, at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Hollywood Hills.
“The entire airport community is shocked and saddened by the loss of a dedicated member of the airport police force,” said Cheryl Petersen, president of the Cit-of Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners.
“This is a great loss for his family, the LAX police department and the entire Los Angeles aviation community,” she added.
The criminal investigation is being led by the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division. Anyone having information relating to the incident is asked to call the LAPD at (877) 529-3855.