Slain LASD sergeant remembered as hero, “good cop”

LASD Sgt. Steve Owen

The shooting death of Sgt. Steve Owen “hits home” for the friends, family and fellow police officers who knew and respected the man as a truly “good cop.”

Owen, 53 years old and a 29-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, was shot and killed in the line of duty Wednesday while responding to a residential burglary call in Lancaster.

LASD Sgt. Steve Owen
LASD Sgt. Steve Owen

He leaves behind two adult children – a son and daughter – his wife, Detective Tania Owen of the LASD’s Arson Explosives Detail, and scores of fellow LASD sworn officers he worked with for close to three decades.

A memorial of flowers, cards and candles was assembled as a tribute on the steps of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, the US flag flown at half staff.

LASD Sheriff Jim McDonnell told reporters at a press conference Thursday that the Owen family is “devastated.”

“In the life and death of Sgt. Steve Owen, it simply came down to this: a life of service to others, a 911 call for help, a predator armed with a gun and a deputy sworn to protect this community, doing all that he could to stand between danger and the rest of public that we’re privileged to serve.

“Sgt. Steve Owen lost his life in that very profound moment but will remain with us for a life time,” McDonnell said.

“It’s our tradition to reserve the title ‘hero’ for only those formally recognized for acts of heroism,” he said. “It’s a word intentionally reserved for someone like Steve Owen.”

Owen’s death resonated with law enforcement officers across the county and particularly with those in Santa Clarita Valley who worked with him.

“It hits home,” Lt. Byron Wainie of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station told The Signal Thursday.

Wainie worked with Owen in the late 80’s when the two were assigned to the Lynwood Station.

“We ended up working a car together,” he said. “He was a good cop.”

The two were reunited later in their developing careers, in 2014, giving them a chance to reflect on good times, Wainie said.

“He found a baby once… He was hard-working and a great policeman.”

Owen, who lived in Acton and lived in Saugus in the late 80’s off of Bouquet Canyon Road, just south of Plum Canyon Road, received the LASD’s highest award for bravery two years ago.

Owen was presented with a Medal of Valor Award on Oct. 2, 2014, for his part in having helped apprehend armed gang members during a pursuit and standoff.

Presenters of the Medal of Valor Award described Owen’s actions on Nov. 26, 2013, as:

“Sergeant Owen immediately assessed the situation, considered requesting the Department’s Special Enforcement Bureau, but realized he did not have the time it would take SEB to respond.  He considered other force options, keeping in mind that the victim’s safety and the safety of his deputies must be weighed with the risk of successfully ending the situation.

“He then decided it was best to attempt using a Taser on the suspect based on previous experience with this effective tool.

“Sergeant Owen directed Deputy (Lewis) Orantes to step toward the open passenger window and when a moment of opportunity arose, Deputy Orantes deployed his Taser, striking the suspect on the right arm, resulting in neuromuscular incapacitation.

“The victim quickly exited through the driver side door and ran to assisting deputies.

“Sergeant Owen saw that the suspect was clenching his handgun and feared he still posed a threat.  He then directed an assisting unit, Sergeant Clayton (Marion), to use the taser a second time from the open driver side window.

“One of the Taser darts penetrated the suspect’s bullet proof vest and made contact with his skin, causing the suspect’s body to remain incapacitated.

“Deputy (Curtis) Foster stepped forward and quickly snatched the handgun out of the suspect’s grip and secured it.  Deputies then pulled the suspect out of the vehicle, directed him to
the ground and handcuffed him.”

Friends of the slain sergeant launched GoFundMe fundraising website in his honor Thursday.

Shirley Bumgarner said she was motivated to set up the site: “I want to honor his many years of service to our community and assist his family through this unimaginable loss.

“He was loved by his family, friends and coworkers, one of which was my husband,” she said.

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