LA honors officer slain in Bakersfield 'Onion Field'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two dozen police officers stood at attention as bagpipers played "Amazing Grace" on a Hollywood street Friday in memory of a slain colleague they never knew.

Ian Campbell, whose brutal killing was recounted in Joseph Wambaugh's novel, "The Onion Field," had a street dedicated to him at the corner where he and partner Karl Hettinger were kidnapped in 1963 by two small-time criminals they stopped for making an illegal U turn. They were taken to an onion field in Bakersfield, where Campbell was shot in the face and Hettinger escaped.

Capt. Beatrice Girmala, commanding officer of the Hollywood Community Police Station, said the case proves "there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop."

District Attorney Steve Cooley, Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge and crime author James Ellroy spoke of the price officers pay to keep the streets safe. Campbell's daughter, who was 3 when he died, attended.

Ellroy, who has written about the LAPD, said, "I come here as a friend of Ian Campbell who never met Ian Campbell, and I was 15 years old when he died. My love of Ian Campbell is based on a love of the LAPD, my status as the son of a murdered mother and our Scottish American heritage.

"I have a photo of Ian Campbell on my wall, and I talk to him in the dark," he said.

A sign unveiled at the corner of Gower and Caroos streets where the two officers were kidnapped reads: "Ian Campbell Square: In Honor of the LAPD Officer and Bagpiper." Since Campbell's death, bagpipes have been played at every LAPD line-of-duty funeral.

Garcetti said the case is part of Los Angeles history and "we can't go into the future without marking the past and the way it changed all of us."

Glynn Martin, executive director of the Los Angeles Police Museum, said a permanent exhibit will be installed on the 50th anniversary of the case in March.

 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press