3 charged with killing off-duty Los Angeles police officer

Three people have been charged in the killing of a Los Angeles police officer who died following a shooting that happened while he was off-duty, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Officer Juan Diaz was one of two people who suffered gunshot wounds and were found by another police officer shortly before 1 a.m. local time Saturday, the department said in a statement posted to Twitter.

Cristian Facundo and Francisco Talamantes III were each charged with one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder as well as a special circumstance allegation of murder. They are involved in a criminal street gang, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Police say Facundo opened fire on the vehicle that Diaz was in after a brief confrontation over graffiti.

Ashlynn Smith and the two men face one count of shooting at an occupied motor vehicle and vandalism. Smith also faces one count of accessory after the fact. Talamantes was charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

If convicted as charged, Facundo, Talamantes and Smith face a maximum penalty of life in state prison without the possibility of parole. A decision on whether to seek the death penalty will be made at a later date, authorities said.

It is unclear whether the suspects have attorneys. They were expected in court later Tuesday.

The LAPD confirmed Diaz died as a result of the shooting, describing him as “a dedicated public servant and Angeleno that put service to others above all else.”

The exact circumstances of the shooting remain unclear, but authorities are investigating. According to CNN affiliate KABC, the second victim was wounded but is expected to survive.

In a statement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called Diaz’s death a “senseless murder” and promised his family and friends that authorities will “never tire until we find and prosecute the vicious criminals responsible for this horrific tragedy.”

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, a police union, did not identify Diaz but said in a statement, “We mourn the loss of our brother and we will always remember his service and sacrifice to the Los Angeles Police Department and the residents of our city.”