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Officer Keith Gregory Du Puis
(March 6, 1939 Ė Oct. 27, 1966)


LAPD Officers Ronald L. Treutlein, 24, and Keith G. Du Puis, 27, of the Wilshire Division, had only been working as partners for a few weeks. Treutlein was a rookie, less than a year out of the Police Academy, while Du Puis was a six-year police veteran and training officer.

At about 4 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 16, 1966, Treutlein and Du Puis were on patrol when they noticed a Ford Thunderbird driving erratically. They also noticed that the new, clean vehicle had suspiciously old and dirty license plates. Treutlein and Du Puis pulled the car over at the intersection of San Vicente and Pico boulevards.

Treutlein and Du Puis got out of their patrol car and ordered the driver and passenger out of their car. The passenger started walking back toward Du Puis, and the officer asked him to raise his hands, which he did. But as the passenger reached the area between the two cars, he quickly grabbed the gun he had holstered upside-down against his back. He pointed it at both officers and shouted, "Don't move!"

Du Puis immediately pulled his gun, and the two men fired almost simultaneously. The passenger's shot hit Du Puis in the mouth, and the bullet lodged in the back of his neck, damaging his spinal cord. Du Puis' shot hit the passenger in the left arm. Treutlein also drew his gun and fired, hitting the passenger in the back. When the shooting started, the driver, who was armed with a knife, dropped to the ground at Treutlein's feet.

Treutlein quickly radioed for assistance and ambulances, but he assumed that his partner was already dead. So did the doctor who first examined Du Puis when he arrived at Central Receiving Hospital. But when an attendant detected a faint pulse, the doctor performed an emergency tracheotomy and started external heart massage. Within a few minutes, Du Puis started breathing normally, and his blood pressure and pulse strengthened.

The injured shooter was taken to the prison ward at Los Angeles County General Hospital, where he was listed in good condition, and eventually recovered from his wounds.

Keith Gregory Du Puis was born in Montebello, California, on March 6, 1939, the youngest of five children of Archie Herve and Priscilla Jackson Du Puis. Archie Du Puis, a Canadian immigrant, worked as a butcher. In 1950, when Keith was 11, his older brother Wayne, 20, was serving with the Army in Korea when he was killed in action.

Keith Du Puis attended Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles, where he ran for three years on the varsity track team and played for two years on the varsity football team, and was also a member of the Honor Roll. After graduating in 1957, Du Puis served in the Army for six months as a military policeman, and joined the LAPD in 1960.

A year before he joined the LAPD, on Aug. 15, 1959, Du Puis married Beverly D. Bautista in Los Angeles. At the time of the shooting, the couple had three young children, between the ages of 2 and 6.

At Central Receiving Hospital, doctors determined that the bullet had damaged Du Puis' spinal cord, and the officer was paralyzed from the neck down. Although Du Puis regained consciousness at the hospital and recognized his wife, he remained dependent on a respirator for breathing, and doctors offered slim hope for his recovery.

While Du Puis was hospitalized, L.A. Mayor Sam Yorty angrily addressed the nationwide increase in assaults against police officers. "The latest act of violence against one of our young officers is deplorable," Yorty said. The mayor also criticized courts that "coddle criminals and provide them the opportunity to be turned loose and prey upon us again. We must expend every effort to provide protection and security for our policemen who stand by law-abiding citizens and against those who choose to live outside of our laws."

"I think those people who complain when an officer has to shoot someone should take into account the position the officer finds himself in every time he walks up to an automobile or approaches a suspect," Yorty said. "An officer has to be trained to shoot first to protect his own life and those of his fellow officers. He can't wait. When he does, he sometimes ends up dead or badly injured."

A few days after the shooting, Du Puis underwent more than two hours of surgery to remove the bullet in his neck, and he was moved from Central Receiving Hospital to General Hospital. He died at General Hospital on Oct. 27, 1966, 11 days after the shooting, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

The driver of the Ford Thunderbird and his passenger were both initially charged with assault with a deadly weapon. The two men, cousins from Toledo, Ohio, were both on parole on charges of grand theft auto at the time of the shooting. They left their home state a few days before the shooting on a cross-country crime spree, robbing stores and stealing cars in Ohio, Indiana, Nebraska and Texas before reaching California. The Thunderbird was stolen in San Francisco.

After Du Puis died, the charges were upgraded to first-degree murder. Following a trial, a Superior Court jury found both men guilty. In April 1967, the passenger who shot Du Puis was sentenced to death, while the driver received a life sentence.

In May 1969, a week before his scheduled execution in the gas chamber at San Quentin State Prison, Du Puis' killer was granted a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court. He continued his appeals until 1972, when the California Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional, and his sentence was reduced to life in prison. He died in the California Menís Colony in San Luis Obispo in 1984. The driver of the Thunderbird served 12 years in prison, and was released on parole from Folsom State Prison in December 1978.

Du Puis' father died in Orange County, California, in April 1978, at the age of 73, while his mother died in Riverside, California, in 2012, at the age of 101.

Du Puis' partner, Officer Treutlein, received the LAPD's Medal of Valor -- the department's highest honor -- in 1971. Treutlein retired in June 1992, after more than 25 years with the department.

Du Puis' sign is located on the southwest corner of West Pico and San Vicente boulevards.



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