LAPD SWAT’s Robert Cottle Killed in Afghanistan


Sgt. Maj. Robert J. Cottle was a well-liked SWAT officer who was also a Marine.
This week he was killed while serving in Afghanistan. Officer Cottle is the first Los Angeles police officer to be killed in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he had known Cottle for 20 years. and was “deeply saddened” by his death. Beck also said he would talk to reporters about Cottle after Friday’s 9 a.m. recruit graduation ceremony,

LAPPL President Paul Weber was also particularly warm in his praise. “As a SWAT officer, R.J. was a tactical genius,” wrote Weber in the police union’s statement on Thursday late afternoon. “His military service gave him unique skills that he generously shared with fellow officers.”

Cottle leaves behind a wife and a young daughter.

The LA Times has more specific information on the circumstances of Cottle’s death:

[Cottle], 45, was traveling with three other Marines in the Marja region of the country, which has been the focus of an intense U.S.-led offensive against Taliban forces in recent weeks, said LAPD Capt. John Incontro, who oversees SWAT operations.

Their armored vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, killing Cottle and another Marine and seriously wounding the two others, Incontro said. No other details of the incident were available. Cottle, who joined the LAPD in 1990 and won one of the coveted SWAT positions six years later, is the first active LAPD officer to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, police officials said.

A veteran of two tours of duty in Iraq, Cottle had deployed to Afghanistan in August last year and was scheduled to return home this summer.

A somber mood fell over the department’s Elysian Park training academy Wednesday afternoon, as members of the tightly knit SWAT unit were summoned to receive news of Cottle’s death from command staff. Officers recalled a friend who stood out even in the rarefied air of SWAT for the intensity he brought to the LAPD’s most demanding assignment and the care he showed for other officers who had turned him into one of the unit’s leaders.

Incontro remembered the night in 2008 when another SWAT officer, Randall Simmons, was killed during a prolonged standoff with a man who had killed several people and then barricaded himself in a house. After Simmons was shot and rushed to a hospital, Cottle went from one SWAT officer to the next, helping to calm them and keep them focused on the still-unfolding situation.

Here’s a randomly chosen 2008 account of the type of thing that R.J. Cottle did as an LAPD SWAT officer.

Bottom line: It sounds as if an exceptionally good man has been lost.


  • Great question, Sure Fire. Legally, I can’t see how that would ever play out in criminal court since obviously the guilty parties have been long ago adjudicated. I mean, can you? I wonder if there are any precedents for such a thing. From my purely personal emotional perspective, the three shooters assuredly deserve the murder charge.

    What a painful, painful story.

  • Sure Fire, can’t you at least thank Celeste for posting the article? You always complain about how she doesn’t report on the things you want her to report about, then when she gives a beautiful write up for a fallen police office and soldier, you only think to bitch and whine about the fact that none of the commenters here sounded off and gave their condolences. You are impossible to please. I’ll bet you that you have absolutely no friends. Maybe a divorced wife, kids who have to see you on weekends, etc. Other than that, it’s just you and the bartender. I’ll bet anything.

  • Bob was a good man, a great partner and an outstanding police officer. RIP brother. The lAPD lost a fine brother. The city of Los Angeles lost one of th ebest good guys.

  • My husband has since retired from the USMC. Robert was a fine man. An outstanding MARINE and a GOOD FRIEND to both of us. We remember the good conversations we all had at the Queen Mary celebrating all of the past Marine Corp Birthday Balls. God has him now and will no doubt use him as he sees fit.
    Semper Fedelis

  • R.J. and a few other of the L.A.P.D. SWAT guys came to my city a few years back and taught a SWAT II course to my team. He was a hell of a guy, a true tactician and leader. We had a blast and learned a lot. As a cop and veteran myself, I applaud R.J. for his sacrifice and dedication. A true warrior who will be missed. Semper Fi, R.J.!!

  • I never met a more Gung-Ho member of the LAPD SWAT Team. He was very proud of being a Member of that Team and being a Recon Marine. At SWAT ROUND-UP he would wear his Gold Recon Wings and Scuba Badge on the back of his Team Baseball Cap. Semper Fi. RIP Brother.

  • I knew Robert J. Cottle through the eyes of his father Kenneth Cottle, also a Marine, retired. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Ken is one of the most important and greatest men in my life, it is no doubt he raised his son
    to be a great American. Robert lived his life to the fullest his entire life. My heart is still thinking of his relentless sacrafice with the LAPD SWAT team and Marines. God Bless his family for their loss. May they always remember Robert gave the ultimate sacrafice for his country with love and the American Spirit. Now he is in good hands.
    SAE, San Diego, CA

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