On the early morning of August 10, the Los Angeles County Police Department suffered the loss of one of it’s most highly respected, senior command officers. Captain Michael L. Sparkes, a 53-year-old, 28-year veteran of the Department was off duty riding his bicycle near his home in South Central Los Angeles. In an apparent robbery attempt, two young male subjects confronted Sparkes. Gunfire was exchanged, one of the subjects was wounded, and their get away vehicle was hit several times. Captain Sparkes suffered at least two bullet wounds from an AK-47 Assault Rifle. The Captain was transported to Harbor General Hospital, where tragically he succumbed to his wounds shortly after his arrival.
One of the suspects in the shooting, a 19-year-old gang member, Orvis Camil Anthony of Gardena, was arrested shortly after the shooting driving the bullet-riddled get away car. He was arraigned on a charge of murder of a peace officer and attempted robbery. He is being held in the Los Angeles County Jail without bond. The second suspect , 21-year-old Miguel Magallon, was arrested at a Gardena hospital where he had gone seeking treatment for the serious gun shot wound inflicted by Captain Sparkes. He too was charged with murder and attempted robbery and was being held in the jail ward at the Los Angeles County Jail.
Michael Lawrence Sparkes was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 10,1951. Upon graduation from high school in 1969 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served honorably on the USS McDonough. Upon his honorable discharge from the Navy in 1972, Michael joined the Charleston, South Carolina Police Department. In 1975 he took up residence in Los Angeles and joined the Los Angeles County Police Department. He rose through the ranks, and on April 1, 2000 he was promoted to the rank of Captain.
At the time of his death, Captain Sparkes was assigned as Commanding Officer of police services at Harbor-UCLA General Hospital. This deeply religious, career professional was endeared by his “troops”. He was praised as being “inspirational, always encouraging others to do the best job possible”. He was universally described as “totally dedicated, a man of high principles that could not be compromised. His great work ethic was second to none”.
In memory of Captain Sparkes, the flags that fly over the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration were flown at half-staff. Governor Schwarzenegger directed that the flags that fly over the State Capitol also be flown at half-staff in honor and memory of this fallen hero.
On the morning of August 19, the Sparkes family, fellow officers, and a multitude of local dignitaries were joined at the “City of Refuge” in South Central Los Angeles by more than 1,500 peace officers representing a broad spectrum of law enforcement, paying their final respects to a fallen hero. A miles-long motorcade of police vehicles escorted Captain Michael L. Sparkes to his final resting place at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier.
Captain Sparkes, a devoted husband and father is survived by his wife Deloris, his 7-year-old son Michael, Jr., his step-daughter Briana and two grandsons.