A 26-year-old man suspected of killing a Whittier Police officer after allegedly killing his cousin hours earlier has been charged with capital murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Wednesday.
Michael Christopher Mejia faces two counts of murder and one count each of attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Mejia also faces a special circumstance allegations of multiple murders, murder of a police officer and murder to escape arrest. The charges make him eligible for the death penalty, officials said.
He was initially scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, but the arraignment was postponed due to medical reasons, according to Greg Risling of the DA’s office.
Mejia is suspected of fatally shooting his cousin, Roy Torres, in East Los Angeles on Feb. 20. He allegedly took the victim’s car and crashed it into two cars in Whittier, officials said.
Officers responding to the crash ordered Mejia to get out of his car when the defendant allegedly pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and fired at two officers.
Officer Keith Boyer, 53, was killed and Officer Patrick Hazell was wounded during the exchange of gunfire. Mejia was also struck.
Boyer was described as a veteran of the department who was among “the best of the best,” according to Whittier Police Chief Jeff A. Piper.
Mejia is a known gang member and had previously been convicted of second-degree robbery in 2010 and grand theft auto in 2014.
He faces the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole if he is convicted.
The decision to seek the death penalty will be decided at a later date.
KTLA’s Alberto Mendez contributed to this story.