Editor's Note: This blog post first appeared on the Los Angeles Police Protective League's website.
The members of the Los Angeles Police Protective League are extremely gratified that the California Board of Parole hearings recommended against granting a compassionate release from prison to Gregory Powell, the infamous "Onion Field" cop killer whose 1963 murder of LAPD Officer Ian Campbell was chronicled in the best-selling book. The decision ensures that Powell, now 78, will die behind bars.
Powell's fate was sealed at this week's parole board hearing through the collaboration and support of the many friends and supporters of law enforcement who joined with the League in mounting a campaign against his release from the California Medical Facility in Vacaville.
We would be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to publicly thank the many who came together in the memory of Officer Campbell and in support of his family, friends and colleagues. We are grateful to the many community members who commented on our blog and sent letters to the parole board.
We are also grateful for the City Council resolution sponsored by Councilmember Mitch Englander and seconded by Councilmembers Dennis Zine and Eric Garcetti. It urged the members of the California Board of Parole Hearings to deny Powell's parole and was passed unanimously. That sent a very strong message to Sacramento that our city was united in its determination to keep Powell locked up for the remainder of his life, just as his sentence called for.
LAPD Officer and current League Delegate Cliff Armas, a close friend of the Campbell family, attended the hearing and read a statement from Campbell's daughter. In the statement, Valerie Campbell Moniz, who was three when her father was killed, told of the family's devastation after Campbell's death: "I grew up without a father because of the act of a sociopath ... Gregory Powell must spend the rest of his life in prison. To release him dishonors the memory of my father, law enforcement and the Los Angeles Police Department."
LAPPL Director Scott Rate reminded the parole board that Powell was initially sentenced to death, but that sentence was then reduced to life in prison with the possibility of parole when the courts struck down California's death penalty in 1972.
"Given that, Powell's life sentence is not a sentence of 'imprisonment until a terminal illness develops,'" Rate said. "It should be expected that the inmate will stay and die in prison. It defeats the purpose of a life sentence if, at the end of life, cold-blooded murderers like Powell are let out so their last days can be spent in comfort. Part of the deserved punishment for his brutal crime is that he spend his last waking moments deprived of freedom. We urge you to keep this unconscionable criminal behind bars for the public safety of all Californians."
Also opposing his release was Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. "To have released the man who kidnapped and callously executed Officer Ian Campbell would have been a travesty of justice," Cooley said in a statement.
In the face of a massive show of unity from the city government and the law enforcement community, the Board of Parole Hearings came to the right decision when it issued its recommendation. It found that "The conditions under which the prisoner would be released or receive treatment pose a threat to public safety." So we also take this opportunity to thank the Board of Parole Hearings for listening and making the right decision.
Onion Field Cop Killer: No 'Compassionate' Release