LOS ANGELES, Calif.–The police officer wounded during a confrontation in a South Los Angeles neighborhood underwent successful hand surgery today, as police continued to search for at least one suspect in the case.
“The officer underwent very successful hand surgery this morning and we expect him to have full recovery with therapy down the line,” Dr. Gudata Hinika, chief of trauma at California Hospital Medical Center said.
Hinika also said the officer was awake and alert and in good spirits.
“We expect him to be discharged tomorrow…,” Hinika said. “He has contusions to the chest from force impact but no other injuries.”
Hinika said recovery is different for every patient but generally it takes about six months of therapy to recover from this type of injury.
The surgeon that operated on the officer and removed the bullet from his right hand was Dr. Gary Chen, an orthopedic hand surgeon at CHMC who specializes in these kinds of surgeries, said Katreena Salgado, CHMC’s Public Affairs director.
Outside the hospital, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck updated reporters on the ongoing investigation into yesterday’s shooting.
Beck said a gun had been recovered but he declined to discuss the man taken into custody yesterday, saying detectives were still trying to determine what, if any, involvement the person had in the attack.
“I can tell you we are searching for at least one more person in this case,” Beck said.
The name of the wounded officer–a seven-year department veteran assigned to the 77th Street Station–has not been released.
Yesterday’s confrontation began about 2:45 p.m. as the wounded officer and his partner tried to question two men–one on a bicycle, the other on foot–near 70th Street and Western Avenue in the Chesterfield Square area, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“As they (the officers) stopped their vehicle and exited their car, one of these individuals pulled out a handgun and immediately started firing at our officer,” said police Cmdr. Andy Smith.
The officer suffered a gunshot wound to his hand and other slugs hit his protective vest. Beck said the vest probably saved the officer’s life.
At least one of the officers shot back at the pair, according to police.
The subsequent dragnet for possible suspects lasted into the night. A 72-square-block area was locked down as 100 LAPD officers–including helmeted SWAT officers–scoured the area, some going door-to-door. LAPD helicopter crews searched from above.
The suspects were described as young Black men. One was 18-25 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds. He was wearing a white T-shirt, black pants and black shoes, police said. The other was about the same age and size and wore a white T-shirt with blue sleeves and dark pants.
An officer-involved shooting team composed of Robbery-Homicide Division detectives was investigating the shooting.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday that violence against police was on the rise.
“For the year, we’re up substantially–29 percent–in the number of instances that our police officers have been shot at, so this is a great cause for concern,” he said.
Beck said today: “In the past seven days, this is the fourth time that people have assault Los Angeles police officers with the intention to commit great bodily injury.
“The most recent event occurred last night in Wilmington when a suspect tried to stab an officer, which resulted in a fatal officer-involved-shooting,” Beck said. The officer in that incident was treated for minor injuries, according to LAPD spokesman Richard French.