LAPD Street Racing Task Force officers speak at COC

College of the Canyons theater students and alumnus recreate the scene where mother, Lili Trujillo found out that her daughter, Valentina was killed during a street race in 2016. The scene was part of the Street Racing Kills event held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Officers with the LAPD Street Racing Task Force shared one of their many videos with a college group that gathered Wednesday for a talk on the dangers of street racing.

Their videos were not the big-budget mass market type of film that glamorizes street racing.

The images they shared at the “Street Racing Kills” talk at College of the Canyons were gritty, real, head-turning scenes shot on cellphones of real “sideshows, takeovers and street races.”

One video clip showed a car speeding through a crowded city street, then slamming into onlookers sent sprawling bent-over onto the hood, propelled upward or knocked to the ground.

“We went to one (sideshow) last week where two people died,” said Officer Garcia of the Los Angeles Police Department Street Racing Task Force.

Sideshows are organized street events, commonly promoted on social media, during which streets are illegally blocked off to create an arena inside a hijacked intersection where drivers are allowed to perform stunts such as “burnouts” and “donuts.”  

During such events — which, according to Garcia, happen regularly, if not weekly — onlookers form a ring around the intersection and unsuspecting motorists are stopped at the roadblock.

The task force officers were the guests of talk organizer Lili Trujillo, whose daughter was killed in a street-racing crash six years ago.

Lili Trujillo speaks about her daughter, Valentina (right) who was killed during a street race in 2016. Trujillio spoke as part the Street Racing Kills event held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Dramatic presentation

Trujillo is the founder of Street Racing Kills, an organization devoted to educating people about the dangers of street racing. Although she routinely gives the talk at high schools, Wednesday was the first time Trujillo presented it on a college campus,

To make her point, COC actors recreated the night Trujillo was called to the hospital where her daughter, Valentina, had died from injuries suffered in a traffic collision linked to street racing.

An actor ushered into the lecture hall at COC’s Boykin Hall in a wheelchair portrayed her daughter’s friend who survived the crash. Another actor played Lili Trujillo herself, collapsing to the floor at the news of her daughter’s death.

Asked by one of the handful of students who attended the talk why she launched the Street Racing Kills project, she said: “It’s the love you have for your child, the pain in losing them and the hope that you can make some sort of change.”

On Dec. 7, 2013, Trujillo’s daughter Valentina was the passenger in a car driven by a man challenged to a street race. The driver ran a red light and collided with an SUV.

Trujillo’s daughter died on impact.

Wednesday’s talk was anchored with a giant poster of Trujillo’s deceased daughter.

Next to the poster was a smaller one of another young woman killed because of street racing. It was of Michelle Littlefield.

Street racing fatals

On Feb. 27, 2016, Dealio Lockhart raced his Dodge Challenger with another driver on Interstate 5 in Commerce, causing a chain-reaction collision that killed Littlefield, 19, and Brian Lewandowski, 18, both of Valencia, and Scott Treadway, 52, a UPS truck driver from Mira Loma.

“Every day, we wake up and see her bedroom empty,” Michelle Littlefield’s mother, Gigi, told the small group.

“It is a very hard reality for us,” she said, referring to herself and her husband, Willie Littlefield.

“It crushed our hearts and destroyed our lives completely,” she said.  “I want to do something.”

LAPD traffic officer Gabrial Garcia shows a slide of what police call a “street takeover/ sideshow” where street racers block streets and hundreds of onlookers watch impromptu street racing events. Three members of the LAPD Street Racing Task Force gave a presentation during the Street Racing Kills event held at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Wednesday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Widespread problem

The three LAPD Street Racing Task Force officers described their ongoing efforts to stop illegal street racing as frustrating, never-ending and grinding.

“It is in every division of (Los Angeles),” Garcia said.

Reflecting on the scene of a car hitting spectators, he called it a common occurrence, noting he has videos too graphic to show publicly.

“They know it’s dangerous and still they go to them. They tell themselves, ‘I’m only putting my life in danger.’”

The task force videos depicted the street-racing crowd refusing orders to move from LAPD officers in cruisers responding to the event.

“We cited that guy,” Garcia said, pointing to the video image projected onto the wall of a young man wearing a baseball hat, laughing and refusing to get out of the way of responding LAPD officers.

The task force members said their patrol cars are regularly pelted with rocks and trash, fired on with fireworks rockets and gunfire.

“This doesn’t affect just a certain part of the city,” Garcia said. “This is all over the county.”

SCV sideshow

In June 2017, in a coordinated effort to rid the Santa Clarita Valley of illegal street racing, local sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers arrested at least 109 people at an illegal street racing “sideshow” event in the Valencia Commerce Center near Castaic.

A total of 102 arrests were made for participating or simply watching the illegal speed event, CHP Capt. Edward Krusey said at the time of the arrests. Seven people were arrested for organizing the illegal event or driving in it.

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