Compiled by Gary Walker

The Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards installed a temporary perimeter and sand stabilization fencing to protect Playa del Rey’s Toes Beach sand dunes

Nearly five months after the ecologically sensitive dune area was bulldozed by contractors working for real estate developer the Legado Co., a temporary perimeter was established and sand stabilization fencing was installed on the property.

A path to the beach away from the Toes Beach Dunes has been marked and visitors to the beach are being asked to use the path and not trespass on the protected area.

“Also, please let us know if fencing is removed or needs to be replaced,” wrote Mark Waier and Trevor Daley of the Los Angeles public relations firm Cerrell Associates.

In addition to the fencing the state Coastal Commission is also requiring Legado to conduct interim erosion control and remedial grading to allow the dunes to begin to recover, with a state-approved specialist monitoring the effort.

Surfside Venice shooter sentenced to 22 years in prison

A 48-year-old man was sentenced to 22 years in prison on Jan. 16 after pleading no contest to charges of attempted murder and using a handgun in causing great bodily damage in connection with an incident during which he fired nine times at a man outside a once popular Venice Beach bar.

On March 7, 2018, Robert Leo Mewhorter, who police say is a transient, began arguing with a man inside Surfside Venice on Windward Avenue. The altercation moved outside and turned physical. Surveillance video shows Mewhorter leaving and returning to the scene at around 10:30 p.m., at which time he began shooting at the victim, who was wounded and taken to a local hospital.

Pacific Division officers arrested Mewhorter the next day near the crime scene. Deputy District
Attorney Brenda Chan prosecuted the case.

Agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control shut down Surfside Venice on Sept. 5 and subsequently suspended its liquor license following an undercover sting operation that uncovered blatant onsite sales of cocaine, ecstasy and other illegal drugs.

Victim of fatal officer involved shooting did not have a gun

A man who was fatally shot last week by a supervisor from LAPD’s Pacific Division did not have a gun when he was shot, prompting Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore to call for the release of video surveillance footage of the incident to the public earlier than usual.

The officer who shot Victor Valencia, 31, at Venice Boulevard and Tuller Avenue near the Culver City border has been identified as Sgt. Colin Langsdale.

Langsdale responded to a radio call about a man armed with a gun on Jan.11 at approximately 12:40 p.m. and made contact with Valencia near Venice and Tuller in Palms before shooting him, striking him in the chest.

Moore confirmed to The Argonaut what he said at the Los Angeles Police Commission’s Jan. 14 hearing: that Valencia was not brandishing a handgun when he was shot.

“A bicycle part with a very similar makeup as a gun was found at the scene,” Moore told the commissioners.

In 2018, the commission voted to release body camera and patrol car footage of “critical incidents” —including officer involved shootings—to the public within 45 days of the incident.

“I intend to move up the release of the critical incident video sooner than the standard 45 days, [possibly] within the next 10-12 days,” Moore wrote in an email to The Argonaut.

Valencia was taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where he died later that day. Sarah Ardalani, a county coroner spokeswoman, said Valencia was from Lomita.

The shooting took place less than two blocks away from a homeless encampment under the 405 Freeway on the Mar Vista side.

A group of activists staged a rally on Jan. 16 near the scene of the shooting to demand justice for Valencia, including the organization White People 4 Black Lives, which meets monthly on the Westside.

Adam Smith, one of the group’s organizers, claimed Valencia suffered from mental difficulties and was homeless, although Ardalani said her office’s records indicated that Valencia was not homeless.

Smith could not be reached for comment.

For some in Venice, the about face on the suspect being armed is reminiscent of the killing of Brendon Glenn on the Venice Boardwalk by former Pacific Division Officer Clifford Proctor, who shot Glenn twice in the back on May 5, 2015.

In his report on the shooting, Proctor claimed that Glenn, a well-known homeless man on the boardwalk, had tried to grab his partner’s gun from its holster after an altercation outside a boardwalk nightclub. But after reviewing video surveillance from one of the nearby restaurants, then-LAPD Charlie Beck announced the video contradicted Proctor’s claims and the Police Commission determined by a vote of 4-0 that the shooting was not justified.

The video was never released publicly and Glenn’s family was awarded $4 million in a civil suit.

Proctor, who was not charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office, resigned from the department in 2017.