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Officer Gary Wayne Murakami
(Jan. 19, 1945 Ė Sept. 9, 1968)

On Friday, Sept. 6, 1968, after 20 weeks of intense physical and mental training, Gary Murakami graduated from the LAPD Police Academy. He was described by his Academy supervisor as among the top 10 recruits among the class of 73 new officers. "After receiving his diploma," Murakami's cousin recalled, "he said, 'This is truly the proudest day of my life.' "

Exactly one week after the graduation ceremony, Murakami's family, friends and fellow officers gathered again -- for the 23-year-old rookie police officer's funeral.

Gary Wayne Murikami was born in Chicago on Jan. 19, 1945, and came to Los Angeles with his parents, George Yoshitaka Murakami and Mary Masako Maruyama Murakami. In 1946, his sister, Diane, was born.

Murikami attended Audubon Junior High School and Dorsey High School in Los Angeles, graduating in 1963. A few months after graduation, in November 1963, Murikami married Jil Tsuyu Miyahara.

After high school, Murikami attended Los Angeles Trade Technical School for a year, then worked for a year as a draftsman before he decided to join the LAPD.

On Monday, Sept. 9, 1968, Murakami was starting his second day of active duty with the LAPD when a call came in at about 9 a.m., reporting a nude man knocking on doors at an apartment building at 3236 W. 60th St. It was the first call of the day for Murakami and Officer William Brote, his partner and training officer, who went to the apartment building at the southeast corner of 60th Street and 11th Avenue.

Murakami and Brote left their patrol car and walked across the lawn in front of the two-story building when Brote noticed a man with a shotgun in one of the ground-floor apartments. Just as Brote yelled, "Look out!" to his partner, the man fired, hitting Murakami in the face and chest. Brote ran back to the patrol car and called for back-up.

Additional officers arrived and attempted to enter the apartment. Officers Frank Pettinato and Richard Harsma were in a hallway outside the apartment when the gunman opened the door and fired at them, hitting both officers with shotgun pellets.

As the officers were exchanging gunfire with the man in the apartment, Murakami was on the ground, about 15 feet in front of the apartment window, bleeding and calling for help. But the gunman continued to fire his shotgun through the window, forcing the other officers to take cover.

Officers Timothy Walgren and Dale Stevens drove their patrol car up onto the lawn in front of the apartment, between Murakami and the gunman. Officer Gerald Woempner made his way to the window and removed the screen and drapes, giving officers a better view inside the apartment. Woempner also provided cover for Walgren and Stevens as they dragged Murakami into the back seat of their patrol car and rushed him to Morningside Hospital, where Murakami died during surgery about an hour later.

(For their actions and bravery, Officers Walgren, Stevens and Woempner were all awarded the LAPDís Medal of Valor, the departmentís highest honor.)

Officers lobbed tear gas into the apartment, and a police marksman eventually killed the gunman.

Murakamiís funeral service was held on Sept. 13, and his 4-year-old son, Keith, opened the funeral service by reciting "The Lordís Prayer." Murakami was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery, near his father, who died in 1966. His mother died in 2009, and is buried next to her husband. Murakami was also survived by his sister, Diane.

Murakamiís widow, Jil, remarried in 1969, and died in 1983, at the age of 37. Their son, Keith, later joined the LAPD and wore his father's badge when he worked as a patrol officer with the 77th Street Division.

The day after Murakami was killed, the LAPD held its annual Medal of Valor ceremony. At the ceremony, a eulogy for Murakami, written by two of his fellow officers from the University Division, was read by actor Jack Webb.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners established the Purple Heart award for officers who received traumatic physical injuries in the line of duty. The Purple Heart award was first presented by the LAPD in 2011, and honored 82 officers who were injured or killed during the previous 90 years, including Murakami.

Murakami was the first Asian-American police officer in the country to be killed in the line of duty. His death inspired the creation of the California Oriental Peace Officers Association, an organization which started in Los Angeles and quickly spread to San Francisco and other cities in the state, and across the country. The National Asian Peace Officersí Association was formed in 1980 to serve the needs of Asian-American police officers across the country.

Murakami's sign is located on the north side of West 60th Street, east of 11th Street, across the street from 3236 W. 60th St.

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