Flags are flying at half-staff at all Los Angeles Police Department stations after an officer lost his life due to the coronavirus.
Officer Valentin Martinez,age 45, who was assigned to LAPD’s Mission Community Station, lost his battle with the disease on July 24. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial park in the Hollywood Hills on Monday, July 27.
Martinez is the first sworn officer at the LAPD to die of COVID-19 complications, the department reported.
“Today we lost Officer Valentin Martinez, who tragically fell to COVID-19. He worked as a patrol officer within @LAPDMission, dedicating his life to the people of LA. To his partner Megan, his mother, and siblings—our deepest condolences. Ofc Martinez, May God welcome you home,” wrote LAPD Chief Michel Moore on Twitter.
A police officer at LAPD’s Mission Station who said he couldn’t make any comments out of respect for the family and wore a black ribbon over his badge in honor of his colleague, only noted that Martinez was a “really, really good guy.”
“He is survived by his domestic partner, who is 20 weeks pregnant with twins, his mother and siblings,” read a statement by the LAPD.
Martinez was a 13-year veteran of the department, and it is presumed that he contracted the virus on duty. A GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/val-martinez-memorial-fund) was set up in Martinez’ honor to raise funds to assist his partner, Megan Flynn, and has surpassed its goal of $25,000. There is also a memorial fund in his honor at https://valsfund.wixsite.com/valmartinez.
“Val and Megan weren’t married yet, and her health benefits and other expenses will no longer be covered by LAPD,” reads the GoFundMe page. “As you can imagine, Megan has a lifetime of expenses ahead to raise their beautiful boys.”
“Val Martinez was a loving partner to Megan Flynn and soon to be father of twin boys that are due in November. In late May of 2020, Val tested positive for COVID-19,” the GoFundMe page said.
The Santa Clarita resident is said to have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in late May after he “fought COVID at home for one week.”
He was rushed to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and was then transferred to the ICU Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica on June 10.
“Val fought for his life every hour, but unfortunately, at 5:33 a.m. on July 24th, Val passed away. All of the doctors who cared for Val did an amazing job and we are very, very grateful,” said the GoFundMe page.
“He was a hero lost way too early in life,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors said in a statement. “All of our officers have placed themselves and their families at increased risk throughout the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We honor their sacrifice today.”
On Monday, his fellow officers stood at attention and saluted Martinez as his procession arrived from the hospital to the mortuary, the LAPD tweeted.
“It was a solemn moment, but a moment filled with respect, dignity and professionalism — traits that embody and represent Val,” the tweet stated.
Martinez is the second LAPD employee to die from the illness. Erica McAdoo, a non-sworn senior detention officer, died from the virus July 3. She was 39.
The LAPD has 9,974 sworn officers and 2,961 civilian employees.
Through July 24, 333 sworn officers and 116 civilian employees had tested positive for the coronavirus, a risk in a profession where constant contact with people is a necessity and staying at home to do your job is simply impossible. Of those, 245 employees were at home recovering or self-isolating due to exposure and 270 had returned to work.
City News Service contributed to this report.