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Officer Charles Frederick Hallenbeck
(April 20, 1934 – July 26, 1962)

At about 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 26, 1962, three men walked into a liquor store at 10600 S. San Pedro St., a few blocks east of the Harbor Freeway (110) and a few blocks north of the Century Freeway (105). One of the men pointed a sawed-off shotgun at the store clerk and demanded money.

But before the robbery could take place, the nervous gunman accidentally pulled the trigger of the shotgun, and blasted a large hole into the wall at the back of the store. After the three would-be robbers ran out of the liquor store empty-handed, the clerk called police with a description of the three men and their getaway car.

About 30 minutes later, plainclothes LAPD Officers James W. Anderberg, 32, and Charles F. Hallenbeck, 28, of the LAPD's 77th Street Station, were on patrol when they saw a car that matched the description of the would-be robbers' car less than a mile from the liquor store, with three men inside, and gave chase.

On East 109th Street, Anderberg, who was driving the patrol car, sped up next to the passengers' side of the suspects’ vehicle in an attempt to get them to pull over and stop.

As the two cars approached Compton Avenue at high speed, the suspects' car suddenly swerved to the right, into the patrol car, forcing it up onto the curb where it skidded for about 60 feet before hitting and shearing off a utility pole. The police car rolled over and the utility poll fell on top of it, draping the car with energized power lines. The suspects' vehicle sped off.

Hallenbeck, who had been a member of the LAPD for less than 18 months, was pronounced dead at the scene, but Anderberg was able to crawl out of the wreckage. Anderberg was taken to Central Receiving Hospital, suffering from a concussion, cuts to his head, and chest injuries. He recovered from his injuries, and was able to return to his job with the LAPD.

Hallenbeck was born April 20, 1934, the son of Frederick Charles and Alice Mary Bertoluza Hallenbeck. His younger brother, Harry Ronald "Butch" Hallenbeck, was born Feb. 23, 1936. Frederick Hallenbeck was the owner of the Hallenbeck Ranch Market, at Imperial Highway and Avalon Boulevard -- less than two miles from where his son was killed. The family lived less than a block away from the market.

Frederick Hallenbeck died in November 1950, at the age of 44, after suffering a fatal heart attack during a family trip to Frazier Park in Kern County, California. At the time of their father’s death, Charles was 16 and Harry was 14.

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Charles Hallenbeck returned home to Los Angeles and worked as a telephone installer. On March 17, 1956, he married Patricia Helen Mercer in Las Vegas and, on Feb. 6, 1961, he joined the LAPD. At the time of Hallebeck’s death, the couple had three young children -- Terrie, 5; Rickey, 4; and Jeff, 1 -- and lived on Florwood Avenue in Torrence.

Based on the description of the suspects' car and the license plate number provided by Hallenbeck during the chase, investigators determined that the car had been stolen from North Mission Road on the day of the chase.

The car was found the next day, abandoned on 111th Street, about three blocks from the scene of the fatal collision. Paint on the passenger side of the car matched paint from the police patrol car.

Police investigators pored over the stolen car, checking every possible location for clues or fingerprints, and hoping to match those prints to a known suspect.

LAPD Sgt. John Moran, Sgt. Phil Kelly and Officers David Wheeler and James Bowen worked the case for 16 to 18 hours per day, every day, checking the car for fingerprints, and trying to find the driver who was responsible for Hallenbeck’s death.

About a month after the fatal crash, fingerprints found in the stolen car were found to match the fingerprints of a recently arrested 19-year-old car thief. The car thief admitted that he was driving the car that forced the officers' car off the road, but he denied taking part in the earlier attempted armed robbery at the liquor store. He didn't pull over because he was driving a stolen car, and he claimed that he was afraid that the patrol car was trying to force him off the road. His two accomplices -- 19- and 20-year-old brothers -- were also arrested.

The car thief pled guilty to manslaughter, and his 19-year-old accomplice pled guilty to felony hit-and-run. Charges against the 20-year-old were dismissed. It was determined that the three men were not involved in the attempted armed robbery at the liquor store.

More than 700 friends, family members and fellow officers, including LAPD Chief William Parker, attended Hallenbeck's funeral services at the chapel of the Utter-McKinley Mortuary on Vermont Avenue. LAPD Chaplin Officer William Riddle called Hallenbeck, "a man of integrity and a dedicated gatekeeper against crime and subversion." Officer Hallenbeck was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Later, Hallenbeck's widow, Patricia, said her husband tried for months to be assigned to plainclothes felony work. "This was his whole life," she said. "He was one of the most dedicated men I have ever known. It was an honor for him to be chosen for this work. He went to work happy every night."

Less than six years after Hallenbeck's death, his younger brother, Harry, was killed in a motorcycle crash near Moline, Illinois, at the age of 32. Harry Hallenbeck was buried with his older brother at Holy Cross Cemetery.

Officer Hallenbeck's sign is located at the southwest corner of East 109th Street and Compton Avenue

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