Chicano man suffering mental health crisis murdered in LAPD SWAT raid
By Gabriel Quiroz Jr and Sol Márquez
Boyle Heights, CA – On October 23, a heavily militarized police force of close to 100 Los Angeles Police Department officers surrounded a residential home in Boyle Heights. The raid would result in the death of a Chicano man.
The LAPD terror began when officers chased and cornered Gerardo Flores, a local Chicano who they claimed had violated his parole. Flores was running for his life when patrol cruisers chased him. This was LAPD’s second attempt to arrest Flores. The first attempt was a few days before, and while unsuccessful, had not been similarly escalated.
On October 23, Flores ran to a friend's garage and sought refuge. The friend later told Fight Back! that Flores was suffering from a mental health crisis and was horrified at the idea of going back to jail.
LAPD’s local Hollenbeck station is notorious for their harassment and murder of young Chicanos. In 2016, LAPD killer-cop Eden Medina murdered Chicanos Omar Gonzalez and Jesse Romero 12 days apart from each other. Medina is currently free and still patrolling LA streets.
On October 23, multiple Centro CSO members heard countless police sirens and a low-flying helicopter in their neighborhood. When the uncommon activity suddenly grew uncommonly long, they ran outside to investigate what LAPD was doing in the barrio. What they witnessed was the 3rd and Saratoga intersection completely blocked off, as were neighboring streets. Dozens of LAPD cruisers had occupied all streets, refusing to allow pedestrians from approaching their nearby homes or vehicles.
CSO members went live on their social media to allow the public to witness the scene unfolding. By now LAPD had received even more backup. Both marked and unmarked cruisers were parked in front of the home where Flores was hiding.
LAPD was armed with weapons that included rifles. Many K-9 units were present, and their dogs were unleashed and free to roam. Neighbors gathered to witness the scene and were very agitated. Residents, including a young Chicana woman and her 100-year-old grandmother, were not allowed for hours to leave their homes, due to them being now part of an involuntary crime scene. LAPD pointed guns and tear gas munitions into their residences and told them to stay put.
Once LAPD crew was at the residence where Flores was hiding. Officers grabbed a Mexican flag attached to a pole that was hanging at the home. They used it to break all the security cameras around the residence. The owner of the home reported to Fight Back! that he never gave consent to his cameras being smashed and destroyed.
At no point did LAPD bring crisis negotiators to talk to Gerardo Flores. Instead, LAPD requested assistance from SWAT, known to have an inner gang of officers who favor using deadly force. This deputy gang is known as the “SWAT Mafia.”
Even more LAPD cruisers arrived on the scene. SWAT made the call to clear the area and the patrol officers forcefully removed witnesses, including CSO members. They threatened to arrest them all if they did not comply. Two armored SWAT tanks arrived on scene, filled with dozens of tactical-armed SWAT officers. The officers held military-grade weapons. Multiple LAPD suburban trucks, utility trucks and utility vans filled with different weapons also arrived.
An LAPD SWAT robot was unleashed in front of the home where Flores was. Three very tall bulletproof shields on wheels were unloaded from SWAT vehicles and descended upon the home. Multiple SWAT followed in tow. At one point, nine shots were heard. Without warning witnesses, SWAT fired tear gas at the garage where Flores was. Smoke was observed but no further information was ever provided. Neighbors eventually were allowed back to their homes and vehicles. The scene continued until early the following day.
Flores did not survive the standoff. No LAPD public information or public comment has been made about the situation. A formal pronouncement of Flores’ death was made at the SWAT scene on October 23, 4:22 pm. The manner of death was reported by the coroner’s office as a single gunshot to the head, and that it was a suicide. Gerardo Flores was 41 years old.
The owner of the residence where Flores died told Fight Back! that the manner in which Flores was treated posthumously was, “Shameful.” He allowed Fight Back! to witness the scene left by SWAT.
Centro Community Service Organization was founded in 1947 and continues to fight against police brutality and terror. In an effort to hold the police accountable, and potentially save the life of someone, CSO will continue monitoring the streets. If you wish to join CSO, contact them at (323) 484-8630 or message them on social media @CentroCSO.