“In the Line of Duty, I hear them say”
The line above is excerpted from a very poignant and moving poem entitled “The Monument”. Its author is Sergeant George Hahn, LAPD ret. It was on September 12, 1988 when Brian Pratt, brother of LAPD Officer Danny Pratt recited that poem at the funeral service for Danny Pratt, a brave Los Angeles police officer who was murdered by gang members during a drive-by shooting on September 3, 1988. What follows are some reflections on Dan’s life and career.
Officer Daniel A. Pratt was born and raised in Youngstown Ohio. He had a love for working with wood, and as a teenager, became a carpenter by trade.
In 1977 he joined the United States Marine Corps, serving most of his enlistment at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Ca. While there he was a sergeant in the air wing, working as a helicopter mechanic. At the time of his death, he was a sergeant in the Marine Reserves, stationed out of Camp Pendleton.
In 1982 he joined the Los Angeles Police Department. While in the academy he made friends and established relationships that would follow him throughout his career in the department. He served his probationary period at Hollenbeck Division. Dan wanted a little more excitement, so he transferred to 77th Street Division in the heart of South Los Angeles. He quickly became a favorite because of his energy and his work ethic. He always eager to try new things, and often was picked to work dangerous undercover assignments.
Dan worked the South Bureau Narcotics Task Force, and he was promoted to Police Officer III, a training officer. All of a sudden the trainee became the training officer in patrol. Because of his reputation as being a solid field training officer, Dan was given the “problem probationers”; those young officers on the verge of being fired for various deficiencies in their performance as cops. Almost always, through his mentorship, Officer Pratt would turn these cops around and in most cases turn them into good officers. He also worked the gang task force until June 1988 when he was hand picked to be the senior officer in the Robbery Apprehension Detail known then by its abbreviated name of “RAD”.
On the night of Sept. 3, 1988, Officer Pratt and his partner, Officer Veronica Delao Jenkins, were on an undercover stakeout at the Pine Liquor Store in South Los Angeles, when they heard what they thought were two shotgun blasts. They then heard rapid gunfire and within 5 seconds saw a car’s headlights. This was the car that had been involved minutes before, in a gang related drive-by shooting which left three people wounded. Pratt and his partner radioed their observations to communications and began their observation of the suspect’s vehicle.
A short chase ensued which ended up at Florence Avenue and Crenshaw Boulevard. The officers wound up at a gas station and adjacent car wash where the officers parked their patrol car for cover. As Officer Pratt called for back up, and requested an “airship”, the suspects’ car made an abrupt u-turn, and was now bearing down on the two officers.
Officer Pratt saw this, and as gunfire erupted from the suspects’ AR-15 assault weapon and bullets began to strike their police car, Pratt returned fire. As he fired the last round from his 9 mm service revolver, he took a fatal round, dying instantly.
Officer Pratt was eulogized at his funeral, by his brother Brian, at the time an officer with the Upland, CA Police Department. He told the audience, “If I would live to be half the man and officer he was . . . he was unparalleled in his family and professional life. He was a good cop, a cop’s cop.”
The Chief of Police, Daryl F. Gates described Officer Pratt as being in the top one percent of personnel in the Los Angeles Police Department.
Officer Pratt was laid to rest Sept. 12, 1988, in a heroes’ funeral, with his family, many friends and officers whose lives he touched, at his side. He was just 30 years old.
He was survived by his pregnant wife, Andria; daughter, Amanda; sons, Danny Jr. and Nicholas; and unborn daughter, Heather, who was born on Feb. 7, 1989, five months after her daddy died. Also surviving him were his parents, Joyce and Roy Pratt Sr., four brothers, three sisters, and a host of other loved ones.
Officer Pratt’s brother, Brian, is presently a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department; and his brother-in-law (Andria’s brother), Jim Deaton, is a detective with the same department.
Raylene Brooks, 17 at the time of the incident, was the driver of the car that was used in Officer Pratt’s murder. She currently resides at the women’s prison in Chowchilla, CA. She had no prior record. She was tried as an adult and convicted of First Degree Murder of a Peace Officer. She was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Raylene Brooks will be able to request a parole hearing on October 17, 2007.
Kirkton Moore, then 27 years old, the shooter in this crime, had an extensive criminal history consisting of numerous arrests for robbery, ADW, drug sales, battery on a police officer, etc.
Moore had just been released from state prison and was out on parole when he murdered Officer Pratt. He was convicted of First Degree Murder of a Peace Officer and received two life sentences without the possibility of parole. Moore is currently in Folsom Prison.
Both suspects were on the run for a short time. They ultimately gave themselves up in Las Vegas, Nevada after surrendering to a local Los Angeles television news reporter after the case was profiled on America’s Most Wanted. Their arrest was captured on video.
Do not grieve for me for now I’m free.
I’m following the path God has laid you see.
I took his hand when I heard him call,
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day to
laugh, to work, to play,
tasks left undone must stay that way.
I found the peace at the close of day. . .
Perhaps my time seemed all too brief.
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your hearts and peace to thee . . .
God wanted me now, he set me free!