Los Angeles Times - June 25, 2020
Prominent racial justice activist, police critic and writer Shaun King published a blog post Thursday detailing what he says appears to be the first steps of a plan to kill him devised by several former members of local law enforcement.
King, 40, posted on Medium that he became aware Tuesday of a chat between onetime police officers from Long Beach and other agencies on a private Facebook group that “were openly plotting and planning my assassination.”
Although King said receiving death threats was common and daily, most were meant to intimidate rather than “appear to be imminent threats of physical harm.”
He included several screen shots and excerpts of the conversations among the posters, which included their identities.
The Long Beach Police Department said in a statement that it was made aware of the comments, calling them “incredibly disturbing social media messages.”
The department said two former officials were involved, adding that no current officers are implicated.
The department also said it would investigate and request help from the FBI.
“We are 100% committed to working in partnership with our community to ensure that all people are treated with respect and professionalism and will not tolerate any bias, racism or threats to individuals,” the statement said.
The plan began with a post allegedly from Laura Tartaglione, a former Long Beach police officer.
Tartaglione, who runs a nonprofit called Honorbands — whose goal is to raise money to honor officers killed in the line of duty — said California needed a team of retired military, police and members of the National Rifle Assn. to offer protection from “these criminals that the Democrats created.”
The reference is believed to be about King, a backer of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Black Lives Matter.
She received a response from Roy Brokaw. According to the financial database transparentcalifornia.com, a Ray Brokaw was employed by the Inglewood Police Department for nearly 29 years before retiring in 2002. It is not certain whether this is the same person, and Inglewood police issued a statement late Thursday saying they could not confirm the connection.
“To be clear, the name that was used in the Facebook post is not that of any current IPD officer and we have no verification at this time that the retired officer is responsible for the comment that is being attributed to him,” the statement said.
As described in the Medium post, Brokaw asked where King could be found and said, “I’m with you brothers and sisters for justice and I’ll be there. Tell me when and where.”
A man named Jerry DeRosa, believed to have served with multiple agencies, volunteered his services, “Need a sniper[?]”
One man named John Houchens said, “Shaun King needs to be put down,” while another person named Chris Sanford suggested “[tossing] this guy from a helicopter.”
Retired Long Beach Police Officer Jeffrey Garcia added that he was “ready to rock and roll,” which prompted Tartaglione to order him to “organize it.”
Garcia responded, “Roger that, Laura.”
One of the odder responses came from Jim Bohannon Lugenbeel, who likened the plot to “retroactive birth control, or post birth abortion, whatever you want to call it.”
Pomona Deputy City Manager Mark Gluba said he was at a loss because it was suggested that a Pomona officer was involved, and said neither he nor Police Chief Michael Ellis could remember a Lugenbeel in their ranks.
One Lugenbell was found, who went by Jimmy and served 14 1/2 years before retiring in 1975, and was still receiving a pension as of 2019, according to transparentcalifornia.com.
“That guy does not represent Pomona at all,” Gluba said of the commenter. “We want nothing to do with him and don’t consider him one of our own.”
King said he posted a portion of the comments because he didn’t know where to report this incident to and because “I lack confidence in any law enforcement system to handle this.”
He did ask the public to forward any other credible threats to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tartaglione could not be immediately reached for comment through a phone number listed on the Honorbands website.