DOWNTOWN — A suspect in the brutal beating of Santa Monica resident Preston Brumfield is in police custody after spending more than a week on the run, police said Wednesday.
Jason Eddie Coleman, 27, of Santa Monica, was arrested by patrol officers from the LAPD’s 77th Division in South Los Angeles on Sunday night and transferred to the Public Safety Facility where he was booked for murder and two warrants for narcotics possession, said SMPD Sgt. Dave Hunscke.
Three others — Sammy Murphy, 50; Gwindon Love Murphy, 65; and Jason Anthony Hurtado, 26 — were arrested earlier this month by SMPD officers following an intense, undercover investigation that involved the use of court-authorized wiretaps. The suspects, who have been charged with murder, conspiracy to commit an assault with a deadly weapon and violations of the state’s Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, are believed to be members of a Santa Monica street gang engaged in narcotics trafficking near Woodlawn Cemetery.
Hurtado was charged with murder in October 2008 for the shooting death of 28-year-old Byron Lopez of Gardena, who was killed in the 2000 block of Court 19, according to police.
All four suspects have pled not guilty and are expected back in court Nov. 5, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. If convicted they each face life in prison.
Brumfield was found late at night on Sunday, May 11, 2008 severely beaten and laying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk in front of 1948 20th Street. He had a previous head injury which required him to have a metal plate installed in his skull, police said.
Brumfield was transported to Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center where he died four days later. Brumfield, 49, had been a recognizable street figure in the Pico Neighborhood. SMPD Police Chief Tim Jackman said residents were “outraged” by the murder. Detectives said Brumfield was beaten because he allegedly insulted one of the suspects, an alleged member of the Graveyard Crips.
Detectives were forced to use wiretaps because of the nature of the investigation. It was difficult to infiltrate the gang because of its small size, around 20 active members, and its level of intimidation within the community, Jackman said.
Detectives turned to the D.A.’s Office and the California Department of Justice for assistance in securing the phone taps, which were approved in late 2008. While listening for any information on the Brumfield murder, detectives heard suspects discussing drug deals.
The investigation expanded, leading to the arrests of six suspects for the distribution of cocaine.
This investigation is ongoing. Anyone with additional information is encouraged to call the SMPD, Criminal Investigations Division at (310) 4589-8451 or the watch commander at (310) 458-8427 (24 hours). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call We Tip at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-78-27463).