In 1994, Derek Eugene Pettis, a gang member, was involved in a drunken bar fight that led to his arrest. He was placed in the back seat of a squad car by a deputy from Los Angeles, but surprisingly, the officer had no intention of taking him to jail.
Terrence Wenger, who serves as a deputy, accompanied by Bruce Bryan, a volunteer chaplain on a ride-along, took Pettis home to help him sober up.
Once released from his handcuffs, Pettis didn’t express gratitude towards Wenger. Instead, he opted to hit him over the head.
In 1994, Derek Eugene Pettis, a 24-year-old gang member, was handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car after getting involved in a drunken bar fight. However, the Los Angeles deputy who put him there had no intention of taking him to jail.
Terrence Wenger, a deputy who is 31 years old, accompanied by Bruce Bryan, a 39-year-old volunteer chaplain on a ride-along, took Pettis to his home to help him sober up.
After being released from his handcuffs, Pettis didn’t show gratitude towards Wenger. On the contrary, he hit him over the head.
At the Carson Sheriff’s Station, a memorial plaque hangs in honour of Bruce Bryan, a volunteer chaplain who was tragically shot and killed by Derek Pettis in 1994. Above the plaque is a portrait of Bryan, serving as a reminder of his dedicated service and his sacrifice. The station was where Bryan spent a lot of his time, making it a fitting location for this tribute to his legacy.
According to Bryan, Pettis was initially sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years. However, due to recent changes in state laws related to the status of “youth offenders,” Pettis has been granted parole much earlier than initially anticipated by his family.
On June 18, 1994, Pettis took hold of Wenger’s gun as he lay unconscious and fired several shots at him. Sadly, only one shot landed and cost the deputy his eye. After that, Pettis turned his attention to Bryan, who attempted to escape the situation.
According to Pettis’ brother, Pettis and Bryan had some level of acquaintance. It is worth noting that Pettis was in the same gang as another individual who resided next door to the youth mission that the ordained minister managed for young men and boys dealing with personal struggles.
According to Floyd, Bruce Bryan not only served as a volunteer chaplain but also ran a mission for troubled youths right from his own home. He even helped them secure employment in a gardening business. Some of the individuals in the photo even grew up working in the same company.
According to records, Pettis, now 54 years old, was apprehended, found guilty, and given a life sentence. He became eligible for parole starting in 2018, and after a parole board hearing on September 6, he was finally granted parole.
According to the victim’s brother, Pettis shouldn’t have been qualified for another 11 years based on the original sentence. Over the past few decades, state laws have been revised, and the age for “youth offender” status has been increased multiple times, from 18 to 23 and currently, 26. Despite being 24 years old, Pettis was retroactively given the youth offender status.
During an interview with Fox News Digital, Bryan expressed his strong disapproval of the law changes that impact individuals who commit violent crimes. He emphasized that shooting a law enforcement officer is one of the most severe forms of violent crime and is only second to rape. According to him, anyone who intentionally harms a member of law enforcement is making a statement that they have no regard for human life. He believes that if a person is willing to kill a law enforcement officer, they can kill anyone.
A touching tribute to Bruce Bryan can be seen at the Carson Sheriff’s Station in California in the form of a memorial plaque that hangs proudly. The plaque serves as a reminder of the life and legacy of Bruce Bryan and is a testament to the impact he had on those around him. The dedication and sacrifice of Bruce Bryan are forever immortalized through this heartfelt commemoration.
In addition, he mentioned that the parole board hearing prohibited deputies and prosecutors from delivering any remarks.
According to state law, the final say on the board’s decision rests with Governor Gavin Newsom, who will review it. Those who support law enforcement and the Bryan family are optimistic that the Governor will overturn the decision.
According to a statement from Newsom’s office, the Governor takes a thorough approach when reviewing parole cases to ensure that any decision is in line with public safety. This review process may take up to 150 days to complete.
John Lewin, a prominent deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County, is speaking out against what he sees as a glaring mischaracterization of a heinous crime. “We’re going to label this individual a youthful offender?” he asks incredulously. “That’s not at all what was intended. This was a deliberate and brutal murder of a chaplain who was unarmed and pleading for his life. It’s simply unacceptable to downplay the severity of this crime with a labelling that doesn’t fit the reality of the situation.”
One of the policies implemented by Lewin’s superior, District Attorney George Gascon, prohibits prosecutors from attending parole hearings or advocating against an offender’s release.
According to Lewin, contesting against an offender’s release can be highly challenging to victims or their loved ones. This is because defence attorneys and parole commission members can access the defendant’s case file, which includes a psychological assessment report. In contrast, prosecutors would have access to the same information if they were present, but unfortunately, family members are not granted the same privilege. As a result, this places an enormous burden on the victims and their families.
According to him, family members lack sufficient information to make logical arguments. Furthermore, no one can speak for the victims and society in their absence.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Carson Station bears a memorial plaque honouring Bryan, who was affectionately known as the “Chaplain of the Hood.” This nickname was given to him due to his frequent counselling of young offenders on the hood of a squad car.
According to a tribute by the Carson Station in 2016, Chaplain Bruce was a devoted volunteer who dedicated his time to serving God. He regularly visited juvenile detention centres to guide and support young offenders. In addition, he welcomed troubled men into his home and accompanied law enforcement officers on ride-alongs multiple times a week. His selfless commitment to helping others is a testament to his unwavering faith and compassion for those in need.
According to his brother, Bryan ran a halfway house for troubled juveniles as a nonprofit organization from his home. He provided them with a safe and secure place to stay and offered them employment opportunities in his gardening business. Bryan was dedicated to helping these young individuals get back on track by assisting them in re-enrolling in school or finding new career paths.
According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, it was revealed that he had plans to get married before his tragic death.
Lewin expressed his concerns about releasing someone with a callous and ruthless demeanour. He questioned whether it was wise to set free such a maniacal individual and what would happen if he became angry with someone else.
After undergoing significant surgery, Wenger persevered and returned to the sheriff’s department job despite losing an eye. He continued to work diligently until his retirement several years later.
In a statement published by the Los Angeles news site The Current Report, the survivor of the double shooting described the incident as “extremely vicious, sadistic, and cruel.” He voiced his opposition to Pettis’ parole and argued against his release. However, he clarified that he did not remember the statement being read aloud during the hearing.
Wenger expressed his concern about the possibility of a recurrence of the regretful incident. He questioned, “How can we be sure that this malevolent behaviour will not resurface again due to a sudden burst of his anger?” The occurrence of such behaviour in the past makes it uncertain that it may not happen again.
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