Officer Jesse K. Paderez died Wednesday, July 17, in the parking lot of the San Fernando Police Department after his handgun fell to the ground and fired, striking him in the head and fatally wounding him.
Paderez, a 10-year veteran of the San Fernando Police Department, had apparently been carrying his holstered .45-caliber gun in his hands as he walked through the department parking lot transferring material from his private vehicle to his marked unit.
Lt. Mike Langston said, “Paderez had stopped at the station about 6:45 a.m. to pick up a patrol car and was scheduled to attend a training class on radar use later that morning. The gun was secured in the holster, but he was carrying it in his hands, most likely along with other items. The hammer of the gun struck the ground when it dropped and discharged. We believe it was a freak accident.”
Chief Anthony Alba stated, “We’re just completely puzzled and baffled at how this happened. It’s a tragic loss for the entire community of San Fernando. It is truly a family loss for all. We’re all grieving.”
A day after Paderez was killed, his family walked through the department’s parking lot where the officer was found. Family members sat inside Paderez’s patrol vehicle No. 21 and took pictures in the car, said Alba.
The family also held a barbecue over the weekend to honor the memory of the officer. They shared pictures and stories about Paderez.
Alba stated, “His patrol car was spotless. He was very clean and organized, if you walked into his condominium you would see everything very neatly organized.” Paderez’s youngest son, Joseph, 21, lived with him at the Sylmar condominium.
Some 600 mourners gathered at the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal Catholic Church in Montebello, Tuesday, July 23, for the funeral of 46-year-old Paderez. Most of the San Fernando Police Department, in which Paderez spent his entire decade-long career, attended the service.
Also in attendance were members of Paderez’s large family, including 12 siblings, three children, grandchildren and his fiancée, as well as hundreds of friends and community members.
His co-workers described his dedication to family and the community, and recalled how he frequently joked that he’d spotted suspects the day before they were wanted.
Alba said, “Jesse was known throughout the community. He knew the good guys, and he knew the bad guys, and he treated everyone fairly. Jesse was one of a kind.”
One officer said Jesse was the only officer he knew who would go to a domestic-disturbance call and emerge with a whole new group of friends.
Officer Joel Vasquez stated after the funeral, “We only have 39 officers in our department, so it’s been hard. Even though Jesse wasn’t from San Fernando originally, he knew more people here than many of those who are natives. Jesse was a dedicated officer who always wanted to please.”
Paderez, who spent the last decade as a patrol officer, was also a member of the San Fernando Police Department’s Special Response Team.
His dedication to children led him to coach a youth baseball team and, recently, to apply for his department’s open Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer position. Alba said, “Jesse Paderez was highly dedicated to youth services. Children meant a lot to him. As the youngest member of a large family, he understood the importance of family.”
Geri Arriaga, Paderez’s sister, said her family was in awe at the number of mourners who paid tribute to Jesse. “That was Jesse. He was very loving and caring to the whole community,” Arriaga said. “I can’t think of any better words to say than ‘Thank you.'”
Paderez, who grew up in East Los Angeles, came from a law enforcement family. His sister, Geri Arriaga, is a retired deputy sheriff, and his brother, Ernest, who died 11 years ago in a car accident, was a member of the Los Angeles Police Department. Paderez had seven sisters and five brothers.
He graduated in October 1992 from the Academy, Class #110, at Rio Hondo College.
His adult children, Evette, Jesse and Joseph; three grandchildren; girlfriend, Maria A. Flores; and 12 siblings survive Paderez.
Donations to Paderez’s family may be sent to: Jesse K. Paderez Memorial Fund, U.S. Post Service Federal Credit Union, 10919 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills, CA 91346.