On the morning of January 26, 2005, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy James P. Tutino was killed while providing passenger security on a Metrolink train traveling into the Los Angeles Civic Center from Ventura County. Deputy Tutino was one of 11 people killed when a suicidal man parked his SUV on railroad tracks in Glendale, then changed his mind and ran before the train hit. As the train toppled off the tracks, it struck a northbound commuter train and a parked Union Pacific locomotive. More than 200 other citizens were injured. The suspect was arrested a short time later and charged with arson and 11 counts of homicide.
Before Tutino was removed from the train, a firefighter retrieved a flag and draped it over him. As rescue workers carried his body away, two lines of deputies, police, and firefighters formed and saluted.
Deputy Tutino worked at one of the country’s toughest jails doing outreach with incarcerated gang members. He was considered the resident expert in his field. Tutino’s supervisor and friend, Lt. Roger Ross, who worked with Tutino for 12 years, said that he had lost a “partner, a best friend, a brother and a teacher.” The department also lost one of its best cops. “He was an almanac of gang information…without hesitation he could name the main players in each group and their rap sheet like a sports fan can name players on his favorite team and all their stats,” Ross said. “Jim was a crook’s therapist…he showed them respect and he got that respect back…Jim knew that in order to defeat the enemy you had to understand them first.”
But when his day at the jail was done, Tutino loved returning to Simi to coach Pioneer football, something he’d done for the past 10 years. There he was Coach T, but his philosophy was the same: give respect and get it back. He treated his players like young men, and he never lost sight of the fact that it was still just kids playing a game.
On the day of his funeral, more than 700 people filled St. Maximilian Kolbe Church in Westlake Village, while a thousand more waited outside. “As I got up to do my eulogy I looked out and all I could see was a sea of green and tan. That alone brought tears to my eyes,” said Tony Tutino, Jim’s brother and a Ventura County Deputy Sheriff who followed his older brother into law enforcement. “It’s a special brotherhood that he was a part of.”
Deputy James P. Tutino is survived by his wife Rita; sons James Jr. and Nicholas; stepchildren Tera, Colby, and Kristen; parents Don and Maureen, brother Tony, and sister Jill.