Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department honors fallen comrades

Courtesy photo Pictured above are Capt. Joe Badali, Avalon Sheriff’s Station commander, and Sgt. Janine Hanson.

Avalon remembers Sheriff’s Deputies Henry and Blair

Courtesy of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

National Police Week is a collaborative effort of many organizations dedicated to honoring America’s law enforcement community. To date, 23,229 peace officers have been killed in the line of duty in the US. 1,729 peace officers have been killed in California and 139 of those were Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriffs or members of predecessor agencies.

Deputy Jimmie Henry

Deputy Jimmie Richard Henry was a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff assigned to Avalon Station on Santa Catalina Island. On June 19, 1984, a U.S. Navy F-18 fighter crashed into the island above White’s Landing.

Deputy Jimmie Henry came to work from his day off and responded to the location. There, he inhaled smoke from the burning aircraft without breathing apparatus. The smoke consisted of burning graphite and other unknown classified composite materials. Due to his inhalation exposure, his health gradually deteriorated. He developed pneumonia, pulmonary fibrosis, suffered chronic lung disease and had a lung transplant. Due to his continuing medical problems, he was forced to retire on October 25, 1990, and on May 12, 1995, he died at UCLA Medical Center, five months following a lung transplant.

Departmental reports, the coroner’s report, medical records, and affidavits from fellow deputies all support, and make a rather strong case, that Deputy Henry’s exposure to toxic carcinogens on June 19, 1984, while on duty, was the cause of his untimely death on May 12, 1995. He was 49 years old.

Deputy Stephen Blair

Ironically, Deputy Stephen Wayne Blair was killed on the same day as Deputy Henry’s passing, May 12, 1995. Deputy Sheriff Stephen Blair was shot and killed while contacting two known gang members in the 5200 block of Walnut Avenue in Lynwood.

He was shot as he stepped out of his patrol car. Captain Badali and Deputy Blair were previous partners and friends.

Tragically that night, Deputy Blair died in the presence of fellow deputies and in the arms of Captain Badali.

The shooter was arrested and charged with murdering a peace officer. The man was convicted and sentenced to death. Deputy Blair was 31 years old and had served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for over nine years.

He is survived by his wife and three sons.