May is a sacred time for our nation’s law enforcement, when peace officers, surviving families and supporters join together to remember the men and women we have lost in the line of duty, both in the past year and throughout our history.
The 2023 California Peace Officers’ Memorial Ceremony at the State Capitol will publicly honor the eight officers featured here who perished in 2022, as well as one who will be enrolled from the prior year, L.A. County Probation Department Officer Michael Edward Wall. Those officers will also be recognized during National Police Week ceremonies May 11–16 in Washington, D.C., where the names of 556 U.S. law enforcement officers — 224 who died in 2022 and 332 from previous years — are being added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.
PORAC believes it’s vitally important that we take the time to pay our respects to our fallen heroes and offer our support to their colleagues and loved ones. We dedicate this issue of PORAC Law Enforcement News to the California officers we lost this past year and their survivors. We will never forget their service and sacrifice.
Officer Tyler Ryan Lenehan
Elk Grove Police Department
EOW: January 21, 2022
Officer Tyler Ryan Lenehan, a six-year veteran of the Elk Grove Police Department, was killed on State Highway 99 in Sacramento on the morning of January 21, 2022, when his police motorcycle was struck head-on by a wrong-way driver who was found to be under the influence of alcohol and depressants.
Lenehan, 44, served in the U.S. Air Force for five years before beginning his law enforcement career in 2012 as a reserve officer with the Citrus Heights Police Department, then served two years as a police officer and motor officer with the Galt Police Department. He was hired by the Elk Grove Police Department in 2016, and in 2020 was able to follow his passion to again become a motor officer.
“Officer ‘Ty’ will be remembered for his infectious smile, his genuine and loyal heart and his love for his God, his family, his profession and his community,” Elk Grove Police Chief Timothy Albright said in a news conference. Lenehan was the first officer killed in the line of duty in the department’s 16-year history, and his loss was deeply felt by the city of Elk Grove. “Our hearts are broken and I know our community mourns with us,” Albright said.
Lenehan is survived by his wife, Jessica — an officer with the Sacramento Police Department — and two children, as well as his parents, three siblings, and 11 nieces and nephews.
Officer Nicholas Vella
Huntington Beach Police Department
EOW: February 19, 2022
Officer Nicholas Vella, a 14-year veteran of the Huntington Beach Police Department, was killed in a police helicopter crash in Newport Bay on February 19, 2022, while responding to provide aerial support to the Newport Beach Police Department at the scene of a fight call. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the pilot — who survived the crash — had radioed that the helicopter was having mechanical problems shortly before it lost altitude and plunged into the water.
Vella, 44, began his career in public safety as a lifeguard for the City of Laguna Niguel. He was hired by the City of Laguna Beach as a seasonal beach patrol officer in 2002 and then started his law enforcement career with the Laguna Beach Police Department in December 2003. Vella lateralled to Huntington Beach in April 2008 with the goal of flying helicopters. He served in patrol and was a member of the SWAT team before serving six years in air support, participating in several operations and earning 80 commendations.
“The city of Huntington Beach, the residents of Huntington Beach, the Huntington Beach Police Department and the law enforcement community have lost an officer who was truly dedicated to his job and was doing what he loved doing,” Chief Eric Parra said in a news conference.
Vella is survived by his wife and teenage daughter, as well as his parents and brother.
Correctional Lieutenant Steve M. Taylor
Riverside County Sheriff’s Office
EOW: February 24, 2022
Correctional Lieutenant Steve M. Taylor, a 27-year veteran of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, passed away on February 24, 2022, as a result of complications from contracting COVID-19 in December 2021 while serving at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside.
Taylor, 51, began his service with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office in 1995. During his time as a correctional deputy, he worked assignments at the Indio Jail and the Southwest Detention Center. He was promoted to corporal in 2006 and transferred to the Robert Presley Detention Center, became a sergeant in 2011 and worked at the Southwest Detention Center and SITE-B, then promoted to lieutenant in 2019 and returned to the Robert Presley Detention Center.
“He was known for being a loving, compassionate, supportive and giving husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend who loved to travel, eat great food and help others,” the department said in a memorial post on its website.
Taylor is survived by his wife, stepdaughter, mother, sister and brother.
Officer Jorge David Alvarado
Salinas Police Department
EOW: February 25, 2022
Officer Jorge David “JD” Alvarado Jr., a two-year veteran of the Salinas Police Department, was fatally shot during a traffic stop when the driver he had pulled over immediately got out of his vehicle and opened fire before Alvarado exited his cruiser. Alvarado returned fire from inside his car, wounding the suspect before he was mortally wounded.
Alvarado, 30, was a U.S. Army veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 to fight in Operation Enduring Freedom and was awarded the Army Commendation medal and two citations of the Army Achievement medal for his actions in combat. He then served with the Colma Police Department for four years before joining the Salinas Police Department as a patrol officer in August 2020.
Alvarado’s was the first Salinas line-of-duty death in nearly 80 years. Police Chief Roberto Filice praised his bravery under fire, saying in a news conference, “The officer stayed in the fight all the way to the end. Ultimately, he paid the price for it. He gave his life for it. But thanks to his actions, we were able to apprehend the suspect, and we currently have him in custody…. The police department lost a son but the community lost a hero.”
Alvarado is survived by his mother and his fiancée, as well as his older brother, Jorge Ernesto, also a Salinas police officer.
Officer Houston Ryan Tipping
Los Angeles Police Department
EOW: May 29, 2022
Officer Houston Ryan Tipping, a five-year veteran of the LAPD, passed away on May 29, 2022, after he fell and suffered a spinal cord injury while participating in an on-duty defensive tactics training exercise at the Elysian Park Police Academy three days earlier.
Tipping, 32, worked patrol at the LAPD’s Devonshire Division and also served as a bike instructor.
“Houston was widely known for loving his job as a police officer and is remembered by his friends and family for how he loved and made people laugh,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a statement. At Tipping’s funeral, LAPD Chief Michel Moore called him “an officer who held such promise for this city.”
Tipping is survived by his parents, stepfather, siblings and girlfriend.
Sergeant Michael Paredes
El Monte Police Department
EOW: June 14, 2022
Sergeant Michael Paredes, a 22-year veteran of the El Monte Police Department, was fatally shot in an ambush attack along with Police Officer Joseph Santana on June 14, 2022, while they were responding to a domestic violence call at the Siesta Inn in El Monte.
Paredes, 42, started as a cadet before being sworn in as a full-time El Monte police officer in July 2000. He worked several specialized assignments, including as a school resource officer at Arroyo High School, before being promoted to corporal. He was serving as acting sergeant at the time he and Santana were killed, so the department posthumously promoted him to that rank.
“Mike had always displayed excellent character, right down to his last moments on this earth,” Chief Ben Lowry said in a statement. “Mike was competent and had proven to be proficient in all the administrative functions that are required of a sergeant. Mike had the respect of all of us who worked with him. From this point forward, he will be remembered as Sergeant Michael Paredes.”
Paredes is survived by his wife, son and daughter.
Officer Joseph Santana
El Monte Police Department
EOW: June 14, 2022
Officer Joseph Santana, who had served with the El Monte Police Department for less than a year, was fatally shot in an ambush attack along with Sergeant Michael Paredes on June 14, 2022, while they were responding to a domestic violence call at the Siesta Inn in El Monte.
Santana, 31, began his career of service as an El Monte public works employee for six years before achieving his dream of working in law enforcement. After three years as a deputy for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department assigned to the West Valley Detention Center, in October 2021 he returned to his hometown as an officer with the El Monte Police Department.
“Joseph was exactly what we want to see in a new police officer,” Chief Ben Lowry stated. At Santana and Paredes’ funeral, he said of the pair, “They left this world as valiant heroes. I am not saying that because of how they died. I’m saying that for how they lived.”
Santana is survived by his wife, daughter and twin sons, as well as his mother, two sisters and his stepfather, Joe Garcia, who is a veteran El Monte police officer.
Deputy Isaiah Cordero
Riverside County Sheriff’s Office
EOW: December 29, 2022
Deputy Isaiah Cordero, an eight-year veteran of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office, was fatally shot while making a traffic stop in Jurupa Valley when the driver, a convicted felon, opened fire as Cordero approached his vehicle.
Cordero, 32, joined the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office in May 2014 as a corrections deputy and worked in local jails before becoming a sworn deputy in 2018. He achieved his dream of becoming a motorcycle deputy in September 2021.
“Deputy Cordero learned from his mother the value of serving and helping others,” Sheriff Chad Bianco said at a news conference. “He was naturally drawn to law enforcement and certainly embodied our motto of service above self. He was a jokester around the station and all of our deputies considered him their little brother.”
Cordero is survived by his parents and stepbrother.