While patrolling a “high concentration gang” area in a residential neighborhood in Long Beach on Saturday, April 29, two Long Beach police officers were shot with automatic weapons as a car drove past them. Police Chief Jerome Lance stated, “The officers were not making an arrest, serving a warrant, or answering another call at the time they were hit. They were just driving down the street.”
Officer Daryle W. Black, 33, was shot twice in the head and died the following day at a nearby hospital. Officer Rick Delfin, 41, was shot once in the head and leg.
The shots came from the passenger side as the patrol car was stopped. Neither officer was able to return fire. As the shots were being fired, Delfin, although seriously injured, immediately sped out of the area. The investigation revealed that approximately 15 AK-47 rounds were fired at the officers.
A resident of the area, a 45-year-old pregnant woman, was also struck several times by bullets that penetrated the walls of her home. She and her 7-month-old fetus survived.
During a gang sweep the previous night, officers were confronted with an armed subject, who was shot and killed. Lance stated that officers Black and Delfin were ambushed and were possibly the victims of a retaliatory attack by gang members.
On the morning of the memorial service held for Black, Ramon “Gumby” Sandoval Jr., 18, of Compton, was charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in the shooting. Four other suspects were also charged.
During a memorial service held on Thursday, May 4, at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, thousands of law enforcement officers joined relatives in mourning Black.
Lance told the mourners, “Daryle was determined to make a difference with the youth of our community. He was a mountain of a man with a gentle heart. He liked to achieve a goal through hard work. He’s even been referred to as the Ritchie Cunningham of the department.”
One of Black’s coworkers, Officer Robert Knight, stated that he patterned himself after Black, and he tearfully recalled him commenting that Long Beach was Southern California’s best-kept secret.
Knight continued, “I think Daryle was wrong. He was Long Beach P.D.’s best-kept secret.”
Sgt. Robert Razo, Black’s immediate supervisor, told the gathering, “He was a man of honor and courtesy. He was not weighed down by negativity and doubt. If you were thinking about digging a hole to China, he’d be there to help you.”
Black’s older brother, Connell, during the eulogy told of Black’s commitment to policing. He stated, “My brother lived, breathed and died doing what he loved. Law enforcement took my brother over. It engulfed him. The time he put into it was truly amazing.
“I pray that you all have the same commitment.” He continued, “He raised the bar for you guys. I’m not saying this as his brother but as a friend.”
More than 1,000 officers formed a motorcade immediately after the funeral for a procession through downtown Long Beach to Brothers Mortuary from which Black’s body would be shipped to Michigan for interment.
Black, who was not married, was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He became an Orange County deputy sheriff in the late 1980s and worked in the main jail. He joined the Long Beach Police Department four years later, where he was assigned to the city’s gang unit about two years ago.
He developed an expertise in prison gangs, and became a source of information for other departments. Prior to joining the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Black served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a military police officer and attained the rank of corporal.
Black was the first officer shot to death in Long Beach in almost 25 years.
Donations may be made in Black’s memory to the Long Beach Youth Activities and D.A.R.E. Inc., Daryle Black Memorial Fund. Checks should be mailed to: Long Beach Police Dept., Youth Services Division, 1957 Pacific Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90806. (D.A.R.E. tax identification number is 33-0342399.)