A man who said he shot two sheriff's deputies at point-blank range while seeking revenge for a friend killed by police was sentenced to 166 years in prison Wednesday, prosecutors said.
Deonte Murray, 39, was convicted in September on multiple counts of attempted murder, assault, robbery and carjacking for an 11-day string of crimes that culminated when he walked up to an L.A. County Sheriff's Department cruiser parked outside a Compton train station and opened fire. Deputies Claudia Apolinar and Emmanuel Perez-Perez were struck in the head and face and required surgery for their serious injuries.
The attack occurred in September 2020, on the heels of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and during a flash point in police-community relations in L.A. after weeks of local protests against law enforcement. Murray, who admitted to the shootings, said he wanted payback after deputies killed his best friend, Samuel Herrera.
Eleven days before the attack on Apolinar and Perez-Perez, Herrera died in a shootout with sheriff's deputies who were trying to serve a search warrant. Police recovered a small cache of firearms in Herrera's garage, and neither of the deputies that Murray shot were involved in Herrera's killing.
Murray's attorney, Kate Hardie, said her client was in a grief-stricken rage after Herrera's death and acting irrationally. He was living out of his car and operating in "a blur" of cognac and methamphetamine, she said.
Before shooting the deputies, Murray sprayed bullets at a car outside the Compton courthouse at a man he assumed was a plainclothes police detective. The victim in that shooting was not a law enforcement officer; he’d simply gone to the courthouse to file paperwork and was “trying to do a Zoom meeting in his car,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Stephen Lonseth told jurors.
Hours later, Murray approached the deputies' cruiser and shot through the front passenger’s window before running away. Surveillance footage from the scene showed Apolinar, stained with blood, tending to Perez-Perez's wounds.
“They’re alive because of, frankly, a miracle, and the heroics of Claudia Apolinar, who, despite being shot through the jaw, through the wrist, kept this from being a murder case,” Lonseth said.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.