Larry Lasater, a 36 year-old Pittsburg police officer was described by everyone who may have had the good fortune to know him as “an All-American guy”. He had earned a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1993, prior to entering the U.S. marine Corps as an Officer Candidate in 1994. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, Lasater devoted the next six years of his life to the Marine Corps and his Country attaining the rank of Captain as a Tank Commander.
Lasater left a promising career in the Marine Corps to return to the stability of civilian life and raise a family. In April, 2002 he joined the Pittsburg Police Department, where, three years later; he would tragically lay down his life in the Line of Duty, dying a true hero. Pittsburg Police Chief Aaron Baker indicated that he, his Department and the entire community were devastated at the loss of Larry Lasater. “This latest tragic loss has compounded the grieving still being felt as the result of the Line of Duty death of our Inspector Ray Giacomelli just two years ago”, observed the Chief.
On the evening of April 23, officers of the Pittsburg Police Department responded to an “armed robbery in progress” call at a local Raley’s Super Market that housed a branch of the Wells Fargo Bank.
The two young perpetrators of the robbery left the scene in their vehicle, driving erratically, lost control of the vehicle and crashed. One of the suspects, later identified as 19 year-old Alexander Rashad Hamilton of Antioch, fled the vehicle on foot pursued by Officer Larry Lasater.
Officer Lasater located the suspect hiding in some bushes and ordered him to come out. The officers’ order to surrender resulted in gunfire from Hamilton, two of the rounds striking and critically wounding Lasater.
Hamilton, armed with a semi-automatic handgun, surrendered to officers backing up Lasater. The second suspect, a 17 year-old, whose name was withheld, was taken into custody a short distance away without incident.
The critically wounded officer was transported to the John Muir Medical Facility in Walnut Creek, where he underwent several hours of intensive surgery in an attempt to save his life. All efforts having failed, Lasater was placed on life support, support being withdrawn on April 25.
The two individuals involved in the armed robbery that resulted in the death of Officer Lasater were being charged with armed robbery and murder of a peace officer. A demand was being made that the 17 year-old perpetrator be tried as an adult.
Lt. Mike Burton of the Contra Coast County Sheriff’s Department, who runs the local police training academy recalled Cadet Larry Lasater as “one of the best, if not the best” police recruit he had ever seen. Lt. Burton lamented, “here’s a guy doing a hero’s job, and he got dead doing it, and it’s a tragedy”. A fellow Marine Corps officer described Lasater as “absolutely fearless”, joining many others in praising the fallen hero.