On June 2, 1983 LAPD Officer Paul Verna, a motorcycle officer stopped Raynard Cummings and Kenneth Earl Gay for speeding through a stop sign in Lake View Terrace.
What would have been (and should've been) a normal stop, turned into the fatal murder of 35 year-old Verna. What Verna didn't know when he approached the stolen vehicle was that the two passengers had committed more than a dozen robberies in the weeks before and were afraid of being arrested because they were armed ex-convicts in a stolen car.
Officer Verna approached the car, a woman was in the driver's seat and she gave her name, Pamela Cummings. Verna went and ran a check on her. When he returned to the car he leaned into backseat window to ask Cummings and Gay for identification. According to prosecutors Cummings fired the first shot and handed the gun to Gay who jumped out of the car shot another 5 more bullets into Verna.
Verna left behind his wife Sandy and their two sons Bryce, 9 and Ryan almost 5. Following in their hero dad's footsteps, Brice, 46 is a LAPD motorcycle officer and wears a badge with the same number as his fathers. Ryan, 42 is a retired homicide detective.
The original trial was held in 1985 and the Cummings and Gay were convicted by separate juries and recommended for the death penalty. They turned on one another and each accused the other of being the shooter.
Gay apologized to the family and maintains his innocence. He remains in San Quentin Prison, he is 62
Cummings is on death row in San Quentin Prison.
The California Supreme Court decided unanimously to overturn Gay's conviction citing extensive evidence that the defense lawyer for him was incompetent. The CA. Supreme Court has twice overturned Gay's death penalty sentence and in February they vacated the original conviction. The L.A. District Attorney's office must decide by December 14th if prosecutors will re-file the case.
Officer Verna would have turned 73 on October 6th.
The Verna family is hoping for a retrial and we spoke with Ryan Verna and he is asking the public to please write the District Attorney's office and request a retrial. Write Jackie Lacey
Photo Credit: LAPD
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