Deputy Sheriff Jerry Ortiz, a dedicated law enforcement officer, met a heroic end in the line of duty, and his passing was a source of mourning not only for his immediate family but for the entire community of Los Angeles. As the investigation into his death unfolded, it revealed a much larger and complex game at play, one that had far-reaching implications. This gripping and emotionally poignant case is the focus of the fourth season of ‘FBI True: Operation Knockout: The Biggest Takedown,’ which details the actions of an FBI task force resulting from this case.
How Did Jerry Ortiz Die?
Luis Gerardo “Jerry” Ortiz was born on September 16, 1969, to Rosa and Luis Ortiz. He was raised alongside two brothers and two sisters and dedicated much of his life to service to his community. He embarked on his journey with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on February 9, 1990, and as a resident of Diamond Bar, CA, he not only served as a law enforcement officer but also proudly bore the title of an Army veteran. By June 2005, he held the role of Deputy at the Lakewood Station, continuing his mission to protect and serve. In a beautiful chapter of his life, earlier that same month, Jerry had exchanged vows with Chela. He had two sons from a previous relationship, Jacob, 6, and Jeremy, 16, making him not only a dedicated officer but a loving family man.
On June 24, 2005, Deputy Ortiz was diligently carrying out his duties as a member of a gang suppression unit, engaged in a follow-up investigation to locate a subject connected to an attempted murder. He knocked on the door of an apartment situated in the city of Hawaiian Gardens and inquired with a woman regarding the case. Unexpectedly, a man emerged from behind the woman, brandishing a firearm, and without any prior warning, discharged a round at Deputy Ortiz and one of these bullets struck him in the head. Deputy Ortiz, 35, sustained fatal injuries and was swiftly transported via helicopter to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Despite all efforts, he was pronounced dead upon his arrival.
Who Killed Jerry Ortiz?
Following the tragic incident, chaos erupted within the law enforcement department, prompting an intense pursuit to apprehend the shooter. Several blocks surrounding the scene were swiftly cordoned off as authorities launched a comprehensive manhunt. After painstaking hours of thorough searching and investigation, the perpetrator was finally discovered. The shooter, identified as Jose Luiz Orozco, 27, was found hiding in a bathtub within a residence just three blocks away from the location of the shooting. Orozco, an ex-convict and member of a notorious gang, had a lengthy and troubling criminal record.
Jose Luiz Orozco’s affiliation with the Hawaiian Gardens Street Gang, also known as the Hawaiian Gardens 13 (HG 13), sheds light on the gang’s notorious reputation. This Hispanic street gang had a history of engaging in illicit activities such as drug trafficking and extortion, perpetuating a cycle of criminal enterprises. Particularly concerning was the gang’s long-standing hostility towards deputies, as they targeted law enforcement officers and pursued a racially motivated campaign to eliminate the city’s black residents through attempted murders and various other crimes.
In 2005, Jose Luiz Orozco shot and wounded an African-American man who was simply engaged in yard work in his garden. This incident prompted Deputy Ortiz to initiate an investigation into the attack, ultimately leading to a violent confrontation with the criminal. Orozco was subsequently indicted on a range of serious charges, including attempted murder, kidnapping, firearms offenses, narcotics-related offenses, and various other charges related to the violent actions carried out by the gang.
Where is Jose Luis Orozco Now?
On March 20, 2007, Jose Luiz Orozco was found guilty of a range of charges, including first-degree murder, attempted murder, and two weapons violations. Additionally, several special-circumstance allegations were brought against him, encompassing the murder of a peace officer, murder while lying in wait, murder to avoid arrest, and carrying out the crime to benefit his gang. Subsequently, on April 3, a jury recommended a death sentence for Orozco.
Orozco exhibited a smile as he was led from the courtroom for the last time and even turned to make an obscene gesture toward a photographer. His automatic motion to reduce his death sentence to that of a life sentence was rejected, with the judge emphasizing that Orozco had openly boasted before Ortiz’s killing about his desire to harm a police officer and make a name for his gang.
As of now, at 39 years old, Jose Luiz Orozco awaits the execution of his sentence. He was transferred to Calipatria State Prison on March 29, 2023. It’s worth noting that he will become eligible for parole in March 2024, although the exact date for his execution has not yet been determined.