A veteran L.A. County sheriff's deputy was charged Thursday in the off-duty murder of a former neighbor who had a fight with his son near the family home in Sylmar. Francisco Gamez, 41, has been with the department for 17 years and was last working as a station detective in West Hollywood. He was arrested Wednesday after a lengthy LAPD investigation.
He is charged with the June 17 murder of Armando Casillas, attempted murder and discharging a weapon from an occupied vehicle, as well an allegation he personally used a firearm.
Casillas and Gamez's 20-year-old son were involved in an altercation on Beaver Street about 10 p.m. that night. After the fight, the son called Gamez, who allegedly drove to the scene and confronted Casillas, 38, and another man. After an argument Gamez allegedly opened fire on the two men.
Gamez, while still seated in a car, fired two shots, hitting Casillas and narrowly missing another man, prosecutors said. Gamez then allegedly fled the scene. Casillas, 38, was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound to the chest just before midnight. Gamez was relieved of duty in July after LAPD detectives identified him as a suspect in the killing. Gamez, who now lives in San Fernando, had for several years lived near the victim.
Prosecutors said if convicted of all the charges, he could face up to 75 years to life in prison. In August, a person who identified himself as the victim's brother commented on the Los Angeles Times' website that he suspected a deputy was responsible.
“We think he is a L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF,” the comment stated. “The reason we think he is a Sheriff is that he shouted to my Brother “L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF WHERE YOU FROM” as if the sheriff was in a gang.”