Compiled by Gary Walker

Officer Rashad Riley of the Homeless Liaison Program treated others with respect

Riley is remembered for his enthusiasm, optimism and work ethic

Santa Monica Police Officer Rashad Riley, a member of the city’s Homeless Liaison Program, died in a drowning accident on April 12 while vacationing in Hawaii on the island of Kauai. A three-year member of the department, Riley was also a mentor in both the Santa Monica Police Explorers and the Santa Monica Police Activities League.

Santa Monica’s Homeless Liaison Program, also known as the HLP Team, is a six-member police unit that works with the city’s Human Services Department to direct homeless residents encountered by police to social, housing and mental health services.

Brian Hargrave, a senior administrative analyst who worked with Riley on the team, said one of the things that stood out about Riley was his ability to treat anyone whom he encountered with dignity and respect.

“And he did it with an infectious smile. Rashad was an incredibly joyful person with an impressive work ethic. He approached every situation with enthusiasm, optimism and curiosity. Rashad’s zest for life and his warm personality made him the perfect fit for the Homeless Liaison Program,” Hargrave said. “I’m going to miss Rashad deeply but am so grateful for having known him.”

According to Santa Monica City Manager Rick Cole, Riley was one of two hires out of 1,000 applicants to the police department a few years ago.

“Even as we mourn, there’s a silver thread in the darkness. We were fortunate to have him among us. We are blessed and grateful for who he was, what he stood for and how he touched our lives,” Cole wrote in a city post.

Riley is survived by his wife and three children — 14-year-old Ty, 6-year-old Austin, and 5-year-old Sunny. His funeral is at 1 p.m. Thursday (April 25) at Saint Monica’s Catholic Church, 701 California Ave.

A GoFundMe page created by the Santa Monica Police Officers Association on behalf of his family has raised more than $43,000 since April 16. The association can also be reached at (310) 393-1003 or poa@smgov.net


Herbert Warren mourns the loss of his son Jascent Jamal Warren during a memorial gathering on the Venice Boardwalk in 2015.
Photo by Jorge M. Vargas Jr.

Boardwalk Killer Gets 93 Years

Francisco Guzmán shot Jascent Jamal Warren near the Cadillac Hotel in 2015

The Venice 13 gang member who shot Jascent Jamal Warren to death on the Venice Boardwalk outside the Cadillac Hotel was sentenced to 93 years to life in state prison last week.

Francisco Guzmán, 32, was convicted in March of murdering Warren, a 26-year-old boardwalk musician and poet. Prosecutors said Guzmán shot Warren while Warren was trying to diffuse an August 2015 confrontation in which Guzmán waived his gun to threaten a group of homeless men resting near the hotel. Guzmán opened fire into the crowd, killing Warren and hitting another man in the leg.

Warren “died courageously defending his friends, who were people who are all too often invisible to the rest of the world,” said Deputy District Attorney John McKinney, who prosecuted the case. “He brought warmth and friendship to people and places where conventional heroes often fail to go.”

Cadillac Hotel owner Sris Sinnathamby was initially arrested in connection with the shooting, but prosecutors dropped charges against him a short time later, after a judge ruled that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to charge him with a crime. Sinnathamby later testified against Guzmán.

“Mr. Sinnathamby was completely exonerated and the allegations against him were deemed by the court to be patently false. Mr. Sinnathamby joins the community in continuing to mourn the senseless loss of Mr. Warren, and thoughts and prayers go out to his family,” said attorney Alan Jackson, who represented Sinnathamby.

McKinney called Sinnathamby’s testimony “contextually important” but added that the prosecution had other evidence against Guzmán.

“I believe Mr. Guzman would have been convicted even without Mr. Sinnathamby’s testimony. The video recording of the crime was the one crucial piece of evidence in this case,” he said.

Attorney Garrett Zelen, who represented Guzmán, is appealing the case.

McKinney said Guzmán did not express remorse during the trial.

“He squandered away his own life draped in the meaningless bravado of a Los Angeles gang member. In killing Jascent he was as cowardly as Jascent was courageous,” McKinney said.

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