The L.A. 53 | Features | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

The L.A. 53 

Wednesday, Apr 24 2002

FIFTY-THREE PEOPLE DIED in L.A.'s riot 10 years ago.

Gunfire killed 35, including eight people shot by law enforcement and two by National Guardsmen. Six died in arson fires. Attackers used sticks or boards to kill two others. Stabbings killed two. Six died in car accidents; two in hit-and-runs. One was strangled.

The violence crossed racial and ethnic lines. The dead included 25 African-Americans, 16 Latinos, eight whites, two Asians, one Algerian, and one Indian or Middle Easterner. Men outnumbered women, 48 to 5.

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One of the more troubling statistics: 22 of the cases remain open, unsolved homicides.

Investigative reporter JIM CROGAN, using coroner's reports, police records and interviews, compiled these snapshots of the final moments of the lives of L.A.'s 53.


Arturo Carlos Miranda

TIME: 7:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 120th Street and Central Avenue, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southeast Division: (213) 485-6902

Miranda, a 23-year-old Mexican-American, was driving home from a South-Central park with a nephew and a friend. A blue car pulled up and someone fired one shot, hitting Miranda in the chest.

Dwight Taylor

TIME: 8:15 p.m. LOCATION: 400 block of W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Southwest Division: (213) 485-6571

Taylor, a 43-year-old African-American, stood on a South L.A. street, where he had stopped on his way home from work. Someone drove by and shot him in the neck.

Franklin Antonio Benavidez

TIME: 8:35 p.m. LOCATION: 4404 S. Western Ave., South-Central L.A.

Southwest Division officers said they caught 27-year-old Benavidez robbing a gas station on South Western Avenue. When he pulled a gun on them, he was shot twice in the chest. He left behind a young child. It appears that a gunshot residue sample was never tested to prove that Benavidez had handled a weapon; the shooting was found to be justified.

Eduardo Canedo Vela

TIME: 9 p.m. LOCATION: 5000 block of West Slauson Avenue, Ladera Heights

STATUS: Open case, Sheriff's Homicide Division: (323) 890-5500

Car trouble led to the death of Vela, a 33-year-old Mexican-American from Arvin, who was driving with two friends when their car broke down on Slauson Avenue. Vela stayed with the light-blue, 1986 Ford Taurus, while his companions looked for a phone. When they returned, Vela was on his back in the street, with a gunshot wound to the chest. Vela left behind a wife, Rosa, and an 8-month-old daughter.

Anthony Lamarr Netherly

TIME: Between 9 and 10 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 78th and San Pedro streets, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's 77th Division: (213) 485-1385

A passing motorist found Netherly, a 21-year-old African-American, lying in the street and took him to Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center. He had been shot in the left eye. Netherly was a nurse's assistant.

Willie Bernard Williams

TIME: 9:30 p.m. LOCATION: Unknown

Williams, a 29-year-old African-American, weighed more than 300 pounds. Somehow he fell out of the back of his brother's truck and suffered severe head injuries. Williams' death, ruled accidental, was blamed on treacherous driving conditions.

John Henry Willers

TIME: 11 p.m. LOCATION: 10,000 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard, Mission Hills STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Foothill Division: (818) 834-3115

It appears that this man's kindness cost him his life. Thirty-seven-year-old Willers, a white man from Salt Lake City, tried to help people involved in a head-on collision in Mission Hills. Passersby gunned him down, the fatal shot piercing his heart.

Elbert Ondra Wilkins

TIME: 11:30 p.m. LOCATION: Intersection of 92nd Street and Western Avenue, South-Central L.A. STATUS: Open case, LAPD's 77th Division: (213) 485-1385

As Wilkins, 33, and some friends stood around their car, shots rang out from a passing car. A bullet hit Wilkins, an African-American, in the chest, ripping into his aorta. Wilkins' friends drove him to Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center, where he died.

Jimmie Harris

TIME: Midnight LOCATION: Intersection of Avalon Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, Watts

Perilous driving conditions contributed to the death of Harris. The 38-year-old African-American was eastbound on Slauson Avenue in South-Central, when his car collided with another one at Avalon Boulevard. The riot delayed paramedics. He left behind a wife, Ernestine. No charges were filed.


Nissar Daoud Mustafa a.k.a. Wassir Daoud Nissar

TIME: Unknown LOCATION: 1601 S. Western Ave., Koreatown STATUS: Open case, LAPD's Criminal Conspiracy Section: (213) 473-7474

Arsonists torched the J.J. Newberry Department store on South Western Avenue. Nearly four months later, on August 12, a worker found the body of Mustafa, a 20-year-old Indian or Middle Easterner, in the rubble. Mustafa had lived at 326 S. Normandie Ave. in the Wilshire District.

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