Westside Congress Members will Boycott Trump’s Inauguration

When Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States on Friday, the three House of Representatives members who speak for constitutes west of the 405 will not be in attendance.

Rep. Ted Lieu, whose district reaches up the coast from Rancho Palos Verdes to Malibu, cited “a series of racist, sexist and bigoted statements” by Trump that included a Twitter attack against prominent Civil Rights activist and Georgia Rep. John Lewis on the eve of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“I cannot normalize [Trump’s] behavior or the disparaging and un-American statements he has made,” reads a statement by Lieu, who also writes about Trump in our 2017 predictions feature (See page 14.) “I can only hope that Trump will govern differently than he has campaigned.”

Also not attending: Rep. Karen Bass, who represents Mar Vista, Del Rey and Culver City, and Rep. Maxine Waters, whose district includes Westchester, Playa Vista and part of Playa del Rey.

“I wouldn’t waste my time,” tweeted Waters.

— Joe Piasecki

Police ID Suspect in Killing of Playa Vista Jogger

Paul Grover was killed on
Jan. 9, 2014

Three years after a car struck and killed Playa Vista resident Paul Grover while he was jogging near Loyola Marymount University, the LAPD’s Major Crimes Division has identified a suspect and hopes to make an arrest.

Investigators recently obtained an arrest warrant for Brittnee Crawford, 26, of Riverside County, LAPD Officer Martha Dominguez told The Argonaut.

Police believe that Crawford was behind the wheel of a 2003 tan Buick Century that struck Grover, 62, as he was jogging along Lincoln Boulevard near LMU Drive in the early morning hours of Jan. 9, 2014. Grover was
an insurance and real estate broker who operated P.K. Grover Insurance Services in Playa Vista from 2004
to 2006.

Dominguez, an LAPD West Bureau Traffic investigator who was originally assigned to the hit-and-run collision, said the driver of the Buick veered far off the road, sheered a light pole and collided with Grover, who died from his injuries at UCLA Medical Center the following day.

After more than two years with slim and unsubstantial leads, West Bureau turned Grover’s case over to Major Crimes.

“We had some DNA from the car and some other evidence that we’ve been developing over the last couple of years,” Dominguez said.

— Gary Walker

Veterans Mural Vandal Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

A Los Angeles man who defaced the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Venice last year has been sentenced to four years in state prison.

Angel Castro, 24, pled guilty to felony vandalism last month and returned to the Airport Courthouse in Westchester on Jan. 14 to be sentenced by L.A. Superior Court Judge Lauren Weis-Birnstein.

Because of his guilty plea on the vandalism charges, Castro, who was on probation from a robbery conviction in 2010, had his probation revoked by Weis-Birnstein.

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies arrested Castro on July 13 for his role in spray-painting graffiti over names memorialized on the Vietnam POW/MIA mural on Pacific Avenue in Venice just before Memorial Day weekend.  Investigators identified Castro by tagger handle “LITER,” one of four such tagger monikers sprayed on the mural created by a homeless veteran 24 years ago.

“The defendant has a long history of vandalism and has not learned his lesson,” Weis-Birnstein said.

The Venice-based nonprofit mural restoration group Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) plans to tap muralists with restoration experience to refurbish the mural after a group of volunteers damaged the original paint while stripping the graffiti.

Prosecutors asked Weis-Birnstein to hold Castro liable for an award of $38,750 to SPARC to fund restoration work, which the court granted.

A second suspect, 20-year-old Luis Daniel Medina, was arrested on Sept. 28 on one felony count of vandalism and one misdemeanor count of possession of tools to commit vandalism or graffiti. Medina, whom investigators linked to the handle “PHEB,” was arraigned on Oct. 20 at the Airport Courthouse. He is free on bond and could face more than three years in jail if convicted.

— Gary Walker

$50,000 Reward for Leads in Venice Hit-and-Run

Los Angeles city officials are offering a $50,000 reward for information that could help solve a Jan. 12 hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian in Venice.

Anthony Robert Brown, 24, of Venice was struck by a late model Toyota Corolla near Venice Boulevard and Venezia Avenue at about 2 a.m., according to investigators from the LAPD’s West Traffic Bureau.

“Right now, we don’t have any witnesses to this crime,” LAPD Officer Martha Dominguez said.

According to an LAPD bulletin, the driver struck Brown in the middle of the boulevard and “did not stop to render aid to the victim, as is mandated by law.”

On April 15, the Los Angeles City Council created a hit-and-run reward program trust fund in support of automatic $50,000 rewards for those who provide information leading to a driver’s identification, apprehension, and conviction.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact LAPD West Traffic Division detectives at (213) 473-0234.

— Gary Walker