Officer Gary Dean Moss was the first and to date only officer killed in the line of duty protecting the citizens of Hermosa Beach. Officer Moss was 26 years old at the time of his death.
Officer Moss began his law enforcement career as a reserve police officer with the Hermosa Beach Police Department. During his time as a reserve officer, Moss was recruited to become a full time police officer a dream he had since childhood.
Officer Moss attended and completed the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Academy, graduating in June 1981. Showing a desire to work as a motorcycle officer Moss was selected to attend the Los Angeles Police Department Motorcycle School. Having been an accomplished motorcycle rider, Officer Moss graduated from the motorcycle training near the top of his class.
During June of 1982 Officer Moss was assigned to motorcycle/traffic duties on the night shift 1800-0200.
On June 20, 1982 at approximately 0140 hours, Officer Moss was working on his motorcycle watching for drunk drivers and other traffic related violations. He was parked on his motorcycle at Ocean Dr. and Aviation Boulevard. While watching for violators Officer Moss observed two speeding motorcyclists heading east on Aviation Boulevard. (It was learned later that the motorcyclists had been involved in an armed robbery earlier in the evening).
During this same time Nigel Geoffrey Brewster, a small time convicted drug dealer had been out drinking and partying at a bar in Manhattan Beach. He and some friends left the bar and were driving towards Hermosa Beach on Aviation Boulevard. Brewster was driving because the owner of the car had a suspended driver’s license.
As Officer Moss began to pace the speeding motorcyclists he crossed Prospect Avenue. His speed and the speed of the motorcycles was approximately 60 MPH. Brewster in the meantime was approaching Harper Ave at Aviation Boulevard.
One of the passengers in Brewster’s car wanted to go to the Jack and the Box located on the corner of Aviation at Harper. Brewster suddenly and without signaling, turned left towards the restaurant. Officer Moss collided into Brewster’s car. Officer Moss was ejected approximately 90’ down the street.
A registered nurse had been behind Officer Moss prior to the collision. When she came upon the scene she immediately went to his aid. Another witness went to the mangled police motorcycle and used the radio to call for help.
Officers from Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach responded to the call of “Officer Down”.
The first officers to arrive at the collision were HBPD Officer Phil Keenan and his trainee Officer David Rickey. They found Officer Moss in full cardiac arrest and suffering from severe head trauma. Redondo Beach Officer Paul Burch arrived soon after Officer Keenan. Recognizing the immediacy of the situation Officer Burch and Officer Keenan put Officer Moss into Burch’s police car and transported him to the South Bay Hospital Emergency Room. Officer Moss received emergency care and was placed on life support. On June 24, 1982 at approximately 0926 hours 26 year old Gary Dean Moss died.
The death of Officer Moss had a huge impact on his family, friends and fellow officers. A memorial service was held in front of the Hermosa Beach Police station. There was a massive showing of officers from throughout California. Hermosa Beach Motor Officer Thomas Bohlin led a procession of police motorcycles and police cars to the Torrance Beach. The attending officers were lined up in formation and saluted as Officer Moss’ ashes were spread onto the Pacific Ocean by his mother and father Charles and Mildred Moss from a boat donated by the Body Glove company.
Officer Gary Dean Moss will never be forgotten.