LAPD Officer Juan Diaz Fatally Shot When Off Duty With Girlfriend After Verbal Exchange With Tagger at Lincoln Heights Taco Stand

Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

After midnight on Friday night,  a 24-year-old Los Angeles Police officer was shot and killed as he sat with his girlfriend and her two brothers at a Lincoln Heights taco stand near to Avenue 26 and Humbolt Street.

LAPD Officer II Juan Diaz, who had been a sworn member of the LAPD for about two years, worked most recently for the Professional Standards Bureau.

But on Friday night, he was off duty and having a quick and quiet meal when he was approached by a group of young men.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that the incident began when Officer Diaz noted a young man tagging near to where he and his group were sitting, and Diaz asked the tagger to stop.

Instead, a group of young men approached Diaz and friends.  They reportedly claimed the Avenues gang and said Officer Diaz and company were in their territory. One reportedly flashed a gun at his waistband as the group began making threats.

When the victim and his friends attempted to solve the problem by getting into their car and leaving the area the aggressors reportedly opened fire hitting the officer and one of the brothers.

Just before 1 a.m., a bystander flagged down an LAPD motorcycle officer and reported the shooting in the area of Avenue 26 and Artesian Street. The officer called for back-up, and subsequently discovered two victims suffering from gunshot wounds, one of whom was Officer Diaz. The other was his girlfriend’s brother.

The brother was taken to the hospital where he was treated. But the young officer was pronounced dead at the scene.

Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala announced news of Diaz’s fatal shooting at a press conference early Saturday morning and updated the details later in the day.

This photo of a black-banded LAPD badge shows Chief Michel Moore with his own badge striped with the traditional black band expressing honor and grief for a fellow-officer. It appeared on the chief’s Twitter feed first thing Saturday morning.

“We mourn the tragic loss of a young officer in an act of senseless violence,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted on Saturday morning.

Moore, who is out of the county at the moment, asked for the public’s help in finding Officer Diaz’s killer. (Assistant Chief Girmala is the acting chief in Moore’s place.)

My sincere condolences go out to the LAPD family for the tragic death of one of their officers.” tweeted LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. “We are here to support our brothers and sisters at the LAPD in any way we can. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti also tweeted repeatedly about Officer Diaz. “Words cannot match the depth of sorrow that Angelenos are feeling today,” said the mayor. “The senseless murder of Officer Juan Diaz is a shocking reminder of the dangers that LAPD officers face every moment they wear the badge, and the absolute courage and selflessness with which they uphold the oath each day.”

Colleagues, friends, and family gather for an emotional vigil in front of LAPD headquarters/via @LAPDHQ Twitter post

Our hearts are with Officer Diaz’s family and friends. They are experiencing a loss that no one should have to suffer, under circumstances that outrage us all. My promise is that we will hold them close, stand with them every step of the way — and never tire until we find and prosecute the vicious criminals responsible for this horrific tragedy.”

On Saturday night, colleagues and family of the young officer who had barely begun what friends and co-workers believed would be a bright career gathered for an emotional vigil in front of the LAPD’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters.

Colleagues, friends, and family gather for an emotional vigil in front of LAPD headquarters/via @LAPDHQ Twitter post

Juan Diaz’s sister, Anahi, spoke to the crowd, telling them her brother had always wanted to be a police officer. Diaz was a son sandwiched in between two daughters in his family, and a man who loved his city. Their mom and dad were “broken,” Anahi Diaz told the crowd.

The murder of Officer Diaz has painful echos of the 2008 murder of well-liked Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Juan Abel Escalante, who was gunned down outside his boyhood home in Cypress Park by Avenues gang members as he was headed for work at Men’s Central Jail. The tragic killing of Deputy Escalante was ultimately believed to be a case of mistaken identity.

Former New York City Police Commissioner and former LAPD Chief Bill Bratton was one of those who immediately expressed sorrow over the death of Officer Diaz.

“My deepest condolences to the @LAPDHQ family and the loved ones of Police Officer II Juan Diaz. Officer Diaz led a life of significance – a life dedicated to service.”

Yes, he did.

The search for the killer or killers of Officer Juan Diaz is ongoing.

Editor’s note

For the best up to the minute news regarding LAPD Officer Juan Diaz’s murder we recommend you follow the reporting of Los Angeles Times reporters Richard Winton, Alene Tchekmedyan, and Angel Jennings who with the help of colleagues is publishing ongoing updates.

WLA’s story about Police Officer II Juan Diaz continues to be updated.


  • Deepest condolences to this young man’s family, and thank him for his service by a choosing a profession whose purpose is to combat this very problem.

    I hope for a speedy recovery of the other male who was shot.

  • The people who killed this officer were complaining against the sheriff’s department las week at the town hall meeting. Maya probably interviewed them for her skewed reporting on the sheriff’s department.

    I wonder if Maya is going to go now to interview the officer’s family as well as the killers’ family to write a balanced report. I doubt it, she will do like the politicians do, show up to the funeral for their picture to be taken, faking feeling sorry for the officer and his family. They politicians and the media are cynical and hypocrites.

  • Hey, maybe save your rants for some other threads and leave this one for comments regarding this tragedy? Hopefully some expressions of condolences and sympathy. This isn’t the place for your agenda.

    Rest easy Officer Diaz.

  • I am sure the family will receive lots of phony expressions of sympathy and condolences. They sure don’t need mine. You well know that if the officer had defended himself and shoot back at the assailants, the same phony people would be placing the officer on leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

    The LAPD brass, the politicians and the fake media would be already asking why the officer was so late at night eating tacos. Eating tacos so late at nice is suspect. Evidence the officer intended to shoot the little angels.

    This comments are totally appropriate because it is the reality.

  • @ Take a minute:
    I agree with you totally, there is a time and place for everything.
    The comments by “Bastard” are for another thread and time. Maybe he can “sound off” at the next Town Hall meeting.

  • Very tragic this brave young life ended so soon. Condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Officer Diaz.

  • Condolences to the family and friends of Officer Diaz.

    May the cowardly losers that did this be quickly found and rot in prison – and that’s much nicer than what I really wish for them…

  • The last time the Avenues killed a LEO was Deputy Juan Escalente who was assigned to Mens Central Jail. My condolences to this officer’s family.

  • How many of those Avenue gang members should have been in custody and never at that location to devastate those families that choose to serve the community. The fact that these gangs are not afraid of going to jail and will commit such horrendous acts of violence goes to show that our laws are to weak but only the Court system along with the Los Angeles Probation Department can make those changes. Once those people are caught and they will what will the court system find? Where they on Probation or on Parole was there a push to give those people an early release others have to be responsible for that encounter with this Officer and his family nothing he did was different from what any other good citizen would have done. I hope that once they are found further searching goes on to explain why they were able to be at that location who else failed that brave Officer?

  • There is a push for change in the news when tragic inciohappen like this and my heart goes out to those families. My family has served in law enforcement in several agencies I understand why that young man choose to serve and the pride he had to serve. California is one of the richest states in our union there is enough money in this state to provide our safety. Those people who shoot and killed one of our Angels I bet when the courts start to prosecute them their criminal history will go all the way back to Juvenile Probation what could have been done to prevent putting a gun in the hands of that person that night. Those people who brutally attacked that Officer and his family without warning. Is Los Angeles really making a difference if we don’t spend the time and money to change the mindset of the people that live in these gang infestated areas. Our Officers our good citizens our great American Heroes should not be battling gangs alone other agencies can help curve those gangs population there has to be a better deterrent from the very beginning starting with more resources put in to groups like Boys and Girl clubs more summer programs more assistants towards church programs. The fewer gang members and more involved citizens can help curve these horrible encounters that resin death. The Police can only do so much that can’t be every where all the time so we have to help make our streets safer. More effort needs to go into our youth so they are not influenced by other cowards that tell them and teach them that respect from people comes with violence the more violent you are the more respect you get. If there were not so many gang members at that sene would that person had felt the need to pull the trigger? My point is that we as society needs to get at the root and not just concern our selves with the symptoms. Understand that any good person and their family could have been the victims of this murder and attempted murder. Let’s make Officer Juan Diaz’s murder make a difference make this Officer and his family feel the gratitude for their Son’s sacrifice for all of us in our communities. The Ave gang has had the Federal Government crush their numbers down before making their original home that started this had a tractor crush it and now sits a park. Please all Law enforcement officials don’t loose this momentum to crush the Ave gang once again and show that our citizens are far more in number than them in power our citizens reach out to them and especially the youth stop more violence go to the cause. Probation/Parole they to need to reflect on what happened to the gang members that were more than likely under their supervision and where in charge of home checks and searches of their homes for guns and drugs did those Officers in Probation or Parole not do their job that resulted in Officer Juan Diaz ‘s death and the attempted murder on his family. Please all news media we have to look at the root of this problem we can’t place our Officers and citizens in unnecessary danger. Please dig deep into those suspects criminal history and their supervision by Los Angeles County Probation and Parole don’t allow those Chiefs not to be held accountable for their lack of supervision or their early relyfrom our courts based on Probation and Parole recommendations don’t allow Officer Jain Diaz’ s death and his families sacrifice to be in vein scream change we all have to scream change.

  • Wow you really said it that hit my heart God Bless that writer Outraged. That person seams knowledgeable the news Media should be asking the Los Angeles Probation Chief Mc Donald who served in the Los Angeles Sheriff Department until she retired and is now the Chief she needs to answer to the Los Angels Police Force and their Chief and all the other surrounding areas that have their own Police force and the Los Angeles County Probation needs to reveal those Ave gang members criminal history and their supervision while under their care. These gang members feel in bolden by the lack of their supervision by Probation and the court system that has these killers on the street. We need programs for the youth before they become killers and take one of our loved ones away from us because they feel disrespected for something as simple as stop writing on a wall and they felt the need to kill for that!! We need to make some examples and do massive gang sweeps but it always seams to come back to Probation. LAPD can’t do these searches without probable cause so they pare up with Los Angeles County Probation and use their jurisdiction to conduct those gang sweeps. So it goes back to Chief Mc Donald what are her Deputies doing in the field are they doing the required searches of their living spaces to prevent gang members from possessing a firearm that can be used in a crime or in this tragic case the murder of a Los Angeles Police Officer and attempted murder of his family.Did the Los Angeles County Probation Department Unser Chief Mc Donald fail in releasing young offenders to early or were they released with no concern for the public early releases saves money how much money did they save ? What was Officer Juan Diaz service to his community worth to the courts and Probation nothing but outrage should be focused on those two the courts for having those people on the streets and the Los Angeles Chief Mc Donald for her Deputies lack of concern for the public. You have to ask what was written to the courts on behalf of those killers to be on the street and once on these streets what type of supervision was given a complete investigation should take place with another law enforcement agency conducting that as the Probation can not be trusted to Devil the truth which will show the lack or care and concern for the public it serves. I’m truly sorry for the families that have lost such a great person who found the need to serve at such a young age I don’t want this Heroes death to be in vein. The famines to start asking these questions with an Attorney to force the truth from these killers background Los Angeles County Chief needs to answer for her Deputies.

  • You nailed it and I hope/pray that those in higher power & positions do something with the resources that Los Angeles County has.

  • Sereved just a clarification “Big Red” was with LASD but only for a few years after she was brought on board from the Ca Dept of Corrections. She ruined the Jail systems thinking she new her job, but CDC and TTCF are not the same monsters. I agree with your post though!

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