A California Highway Patrol officer who was shot to death July 23, 1992 after a freeway confrontation was eulogized July 28 as a man whose “kindness and gentle spirit will be remembered by everybody who came in contact with him.”
Fidel Aleman, 33, of Whittier was shot in the chest after he stepped out of his car to confront the driver of a pickup truck who had cut him off on the freeway a few miles earlier.
In his eulogy, Raul Duran, a fellow officer and longtime friend, described Aleman as a quiet and reserved cop who distinguished himself by excelling in officer safety. He loved his job, and his fellow officers loved him.
CHP Commissioner M. J. Hannigan, one of several high ranking officials at Aleman’s funeral at Grace Chapel in Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary, said after the services that Aleman’s murder was just a senseless act.
Hannigan said Aleman “stood with the few who have the strength and tenacity to hold the line against those who would destroy our society.”
Mourners packed the small, hilltop chapel. About 600 officers from law enforcement agencies throughout the state stood at attention outside, listening to the services over outdoor speakers, some fought back tears.
Aleman was shot as he drove to work at the Central Los Angeles CHP station with his fiancee, Gretchen Jacobs, who is also a CHP officer, detectives said. On the Pomona Freeway, he flashed his headlights at the driver of a speeding pickup who had cut him off.
The pickup truck driver tailed the officer, at times with his high beam headlights on, to the Santa Monica Freeway’s Pico Boulevard off-ramp. After leaving the freeway, Aleman stopped his car on Pico and stepped out. The pickup pulled up alongside, the driver pointed a shotgun through the passenger window and opened fire.
Aleman’s fiancee rushed him to the California Medical Center – Los Angeles, where he died of a gunshot wound to the chest a short time later, detectives said.
“It started out with kind of a simple confrontation on the freeway and wound up with this poor young man being shot to death on the side of the road,” CHP Southern Division Chief Edward Gomez said after the services. He appealed to the public for help in capturing Aleman’s killer.
“Someone saw what happened that night,” he said. “I know it. They need to come forward and help us.”
CHP Officer Anthony Gubler walked from the chapel after the services in dark glasses, shaken by the loss. Gubler said he and Aleman were classmates at the CHP Academy in 1984.
“Fidel was an inspiration to everyone,” he said. “Even back then he took the job seriously. He kept everyone together. If we were slipping, he would pull us up, encourage us. We were just young kids and didn’t know anything. We didn’t even know how to march, he had been in the Marines, and he taught us.”
Entering the California Highway Patrol Academy in June 1984, he completed his training and was assigned to the Central Los Angeles Area. Recognizing Aleman’s knowledge of the department’s goals and objectives, his supervisors assigned him numerous duties including: field training officer, physical methods of arrest instructor; impaired driver task force member; and protective services detail member.
These duties enabled him to impart his wisdom to younger officers and to sharpen the skills of veteran officers. He served all seven years of his CHP career in the Central Los Angeles station.
Aleman was divorced and the father of two girls, Jessica, 6, and Jasmine, 3. He is also survived by his fiancee, parents, Erasmo and Zoraida Aleman, two older brothers, Rick Cerezo and Frank Aleman, and two younger sisters, Margaret Smith and Nelly Carlise.