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"MY HEART TOLD ME HE WAS GONE"


May 19, 2000
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"MY HEART TOLD ME HE WAS GONE"

FATAL ATTACK: WOUNDED LONG BEACH OFFICER DESCRIBES SHOOTING IN WHICH HIS PARTNER, DARYLE BLACK, WAS KILLED APRIL 29. POLICE SAY THEY INTERRUPTED A GANG CONFRONTATION. Los Angeles Times -- The partner of a slain Long Beach policeman described on Wednesday how he escaped a hail of gunfire that shattered his right knee and mortally wounded Officer Daryle Black, who fell against him in their bullet-riddled patrol car as he struggled to drive to safety. Black, 33, was shot in the head the night of April 29 when he and Officer Rick Delfin ran into a spray of bullets on Lime Avenue in an area of Long Beach known for gang activity. Police said the officers interrupted a group of heavily armed youths as they prepared to commit crimes against rival gang members. Also wounded in the attack was Martha Cervantes, 45, a bystander who was seven months pregnant. Several rounds pierced the walls of her home, hitting her five times. She has been treated and released. Delfin, 41, the father of three children, said he managed to drive out of the line of fire by keeping his head below the dashboard and watching the street lights and electrical wires overhead to make sure he drove down the middle of the street. "Physically I couldn't do anything, but mentally I wanted to fight. I was so angry. I told myself I had to get outta there," he recalled during a news conference before his release from Long Beach Memorial Medical Center. Delfin, whose knee is now held together with pins and a metal frame, said he drove about a block down Lime before he was rescued by other officers arriving at the scene. All the while, he said, he kept talking to the dispatcher, at times mentioning his children. "I was in so much pain, the officers had to pry my hands off the steering wheel to get me out," he said. "Daryle Black's head was resting on my right shoulder. . . . Something in my heart told me he was gone." Delfin, wearing a red USC T-shirt and cap, recounted the shooting while surrounded by television cameras, hospital staff members and his wife, Debbie. Confined to a wheelchair, he sat at a table filled with microphones and autographed jerseys from the USC Trojans, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Anaheim Angels. His voice cracking with emotion, Delfin thanked his friends, family, fellow officers and the staff of Long Beach Memorial, where he was treated for his injuries, including a superficial head wound. "God bless the memory of my partner, Daryle Black. God bless his family," he said. "Everyone has supported me all the way. They've been the best. . . . I'm just happy to be alive." Delfin's doctors say he has a year of recovery and physical therapy ahead, but he should be able to walk normally and return to work if all goes well. The Police Department's psychologist also has counseled him. Delfin, a 15-year veteran of the force, told reporters that he is not sure whether he will return to work. Although he still has fears about what happened to him and Black, he said, he misses being out on the street. "Last Saturday about 6 p.m., I was looking out my hospital window and saw a black-and-white going down Atlantic Avenue. My heart skipped a beat. 'I'm not out there,' I told myself." As Delfin returned home from the hospital, police continued their investigation into last month's shooting. A $ 50,000 reward remains in effect for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone linked to the attack. Police are maintaining a 24-hour hotline at (877) 636-3300. So far, Raymond "Gumby" Sandoval Jr., 18, and Adolfo Ramon Bojorquez, 21, have been charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and two counts of assault with a firearm. Both are being held without bail. They are to be arraigned today in Long Beach Superior Court. Prosecutors say they will decide whether to seek the death penalty after preliminary hearings. Police believe that Black and Delfin, both anti-gang officers, were attacked because they drove into the middle of a group of gang members as they prepared to move against rivals. One suspect, investigators said, began firing an AR-15 assault-style rifle into the officers' car to keep them from arresting a pistol-carrying gang member who faced mandatory prison time if he was convicted of another crime.



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