In honor of LAPD officer and NorCal deputy who died from COVID-19, Gov. Newsom orders flags flown at half-staff

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LAPD Officer Valentin Martinez, left, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Oscar Walter Rocha appear in photos released by their departments after their deaths in July 2020.

LAPD Officer Valentin Martinez, left, and Alameda County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Oscar Walter Rocha appear in photos released by their departments after their deaths in July 2020.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday ordered for the State Capitol’s flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of two law enforcement officers who recently died from COVID-19.

In a statement, Newsom called LAPD Officer Valentin Martinez and Alameda County sheriff’s Deputy Oscar Walter Rocha “heroes” and offered his condolences to their families, friends and colleagues.

Their deaths are “a very real and painful reminder of the risks these men and women face every single day protecting the people of California,” the governor said.

Martinez died at age 45 on Friday and is survived by his sister, brothers, his parents, Ricardo Sr. and Maria, and his partner Megan Flynn, who is expecting twins, authorities said. He had been battling COVID-19 since May 24.

According to a GoFundMe page for Martinez’s family, the 13-year LAPD veteran likely contracted the coronavirus at work.

“We are deeply [saddened] by this horrible news,” the Twitter account for LAPD’s Mission station in the San Fernando Valley said Friday.

Martinez was the first sworn LAPD officer believed to have died of COVID-19.

On July 3, Senior Detention Officer Erica McAdoo, 39, succumbed to complications from the illness.

In Alameda County, officials said Rocha died Thursday after three weeks in intensive care. He left behind his wife, Maureen, two sons, two stepchildren and his parents, Oscar and Rosario. He was 57.

“He put up a courageous fight to the end and will never be forgotten,” a Sheriff’s Office statement said.

On Saturday, the department reported another employee death. Sheriff’s technician Valerie Leon died Friday at age 61. She had been assigned to administration at the coroner’s bureau.

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