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February 3, 2006 – In the early morning hours of Thursday, February 2, 2006, a Santa Monica Police undercover officer was shot in the line of duty in the Pico neighborhood. Suspects are in custody. The injured officer is Walter Ramirez, 25 years old, a four-year veteran of the Santa Monica Police Department; he was treated at a local hospital for a gunshot wound to his right hand and later released.

At approximately 5:00 am that morning, a Santa Monica Police Officer saw a van with two suspicious persons in a grocery store parking lot at 1600 Cloverfield Boulevard at Olympic Boulevard. He requested an undercover unit, which was in the area on a robbery suppression detail, to obtain a license plate.

The undercover unit followed the van but lost them in the area of Pico Boulevard and 18th Street. While driving southbound on 17th Street, the officers saw the van pulled into a driveway on the east side of the 1900 block. As the officer’s unmarked vehicle approached the van, a suspect appeared from the passenger side of the van holding a gun.

The suspect shot his gun at the approaching plainclothes officers multiple times. One of the rounds struck the driver officer in the right wrist. The passenger officer was not hit. The officers moved to a position of safety and requested assistance. Additional officers responded to the area and a perimeter was established.

Two suspects were taken into custody at approximately 6:15 am without further incident. The primary suspect, Michael Espindola, 20 years old, of Santa Monica, is a known gang member according to police. He was arrested and booked for attempted murder on a police officer, with a gang enhancement, and for being an ex-convict in possession of a firearm. The second suspect has not been identified.

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