Pedestrian Killed by Sheriff’s Patrol Car in WeHo Is Identified

Flowers left on Santa Monica Boulevard near the MTA depot in memory of Jonathan Peña.
Flowers left on Santa Monica Boulevard near the MTA depot in memory of Jonathan Peña.

The man killed on Thursday when he was hit by an out-of-control Sheriff’s patrol car on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood has been identified as Jonathan Peña.

Jonathan Peña
Jonathan Peña

Peña, 27, lived on June Street in Hollywood and was working in West Hollywood as the desk clerk at the Holloway Motel. Peña, who was gay, also had worked at a gay clothing store in West Hollywood’s Boystown, which is the area where the accident took place

The other pedestrian hit by the patrol car has been identified as Michael Fong, 39, a cardiologist at USC and a an associate professor of clinical medicine in radiology. Fong remains in critical condition at a hospital. An  online search identified him as living on Huntley Drive in WeHo.

The two deputies in the patrol car also remain hospitalized. NBC 4 identified one of them as a four-year veteran deputy who is a former Marine. One of the deputies was trapped in the patrol car and had to be rescued from it. Their names have not yet been released.

The accident occurred around 11:15 p.m. on Thursday when the deputy driving the patrol car headed down Santa Monica Boulevard near San Vicente to respond to a complaint about one spouse attacking another. Sheriff’s deputies have said that the deputy’s car clipped the rear end of a car in front of it and spun out of control. It crossed the sidewalk on the south side of Santa Monica in front of the MTA bus depot and hit Peña and Fong as they were walking on the sidewalk. Peña was found under the patrol car.

Michael Fong
Michael Fong

WEHOville contacted friends and co-workers of Peña who were devastated by his death. Tony Powell, manager of the Holloway Motel, said Peña had been an ideal front desk worker with a great personality. Powell said he had heard that Peña was the victim of the Thursday accident but wasn’t able to confirm that until he called the L.A. County Coroner’s Office. Powell said he called Peña’s mother on Saturday to break the news to her. He said the company that owns the motel has agreed to pay for Peña’s funeral if his family cannot afford to. Peña’s family has launched an online campaign to help cover his funeral expenses.

Henry, a friend of Peña’s who asked that his last name not be used out of concern for his privacy, said Peña was a aspiring artist. “He was always very spritely, he was always bouncing,” Henry said. “He loved drawing comic book stuff and art. He was definitely trying to figure out what he wanted to do in the form of a longer-term career. Before Holloway he was at USA Hostels, often doing a front desk shift there. He liked that. It was all backpackers, students, a young lively kind of crowd, same age range, same kind of artistic type.”

The California Highway Patrol is investigating the incident. Witnesses have said the patrol car had its emergency lights and siren on when it entered Santa Monica Boulevard.


37 Comments
  1. The City must pay multimillions to both families no matter what and filing a Govt claim must be addressed but reality is I been hit and almost dead too many times in hit and run and our Sheriff agencies need to be the fully responsible ones to know how to NOT OVERSPEED as there was no need as I been an interventionist in DV and Recovery calls where they did not show up and I almost died from attack without their support so being in persuit would rationalize high speed but the sheriffs were NOT IN PERSUIT–case closed and this matters more in media than any other bs Weho media as we need to protect citizens not murder them!!!!

  2. I am saddened by this news, I just found out today. He was such a sweet kid, kind, gentle and full of life. Bless you Johnny. My heart is heavy. Bless you…

  3. Update on Dr. Fong….”STABLE”
    no further
    not sure what hospital he’s in. Since he is
    stable he might be at Keck or Cedars.

  4. The fact of the matter is the Sheriff’s department is cycling out of the County Jail system bad ass macho chip on the shoulder aggressive towards the GLBT community. That county mentality fosters a breed of people who see any eye contact, questions and inquiries as a direct challenge to their authority. Those they are charged with protecting foster their is against them mentality. These Sheriff’s are dangerous, reckless, trigger happy people.
    Release the names of those that did the killing.
    It’s time that West Hollywood suck it up and develop our own police department that is community based and oriented. Not enabling people who want to blow off steam at anyone that gets in their way. That sheriff was a reckless endangerment to anyone around him as he recklessly responded to a call for help!

    1. A police department is more than officers driving around answering calls. There has to be a training section, detectives to investigate crimes, a crime lab and a support staff doing all the clerical work. Lastly a retirement system that must be funded and administered.

  5. For those who wish to say good bye to Jonathan, the funeral service will be on Saturday 10/24/2015 at Rose Hills Mortuary, 3888 Workman Mill Rd, Whittier, CA 90601from 5:00-8:00 pm.

  6. How many tragedies need to happen in this city before the police are held responsible! Still waiting to hear what happened to the officer who shot and killed and innocent victim on Palm.
    RIP!

  7. Dr. Michael Fong is a brilliant and caring man. He recently treated me at Keck USC Hospital when I had a heart transplant. I am very saddened by this tragedy. Vinn

  8. May God be with you cousin. We won’t forget you. From A Peña. I hope the police does the right thing and doesn’t cover up this tragedy and takes responsibility. Also my prayers go to Mr. Michael Fong for a fast recovery.

  9. Whether is was a mechanical failure, a freak accident or simply reckless behavior, the matter needs to be investigated in an open fashion. While a lawsuit may bring out the true facts, litigation will not necessarily make an investigation public as the Sheriff’s Department will often negotiate a confidentiality clause as part of any settlement. While an investigation will not bring these young men back, as employers of the Sheriff’s Department we, the people of West Hollywood, have a right to see that if there were mistakes made, that they are corrected so that we don’t see a repeat this tragic event. Although the deputies may have been acting in a completely professional manner, it is simply sound policy to insure that no protocols were broken or to determine if additional training or safety measures need to be enacted. It is not about finding fault; it is about public safety.

  10. Chris Sanger RE Eric: You read my mind. Eric: please get in touch with CHIP, as your info–if correct–is VERY relevant. Now…ANY news about this other car that was alleged to have been involved, or THEIR (in)actions, or whether THEIR (in)actions in response to lights & sirens–IF sufficiently forewarned–might have involved booze or drugs? No?

    Then let’s cool our jets and wait for re facts to come out before jumping to conclusions and demonizing deputies for something that may not have been THEIR fault. And as for the call the deputies were rushing to respond to, lets not forget “felony domestic assault” IS ALSO a serious and potentially life-threatening situation that DOES demand a reasonably- high-speed emergency response. Ask anyone who’s been the victim of it if they wish the police had gotten there quicker.

  11. Eric – your information is important. But more important than posting here (which is relevant and helpful), are you in touch with the CHP? They, not WeHoVille, is in charge of the investigation.

  12. I literally saw the police responding from Robertson and turning right onto Santa Monica at a high rate of speed with NO lights or sirens.. I remember thinking that they really had accelerated very quickly.. Then shortly after I heard of the car accident, before we knew of any deaths… Really a sad story..

  13. Very disturbing how long it ever takes to get updates about the investigation. Like the Winkler tragedy seems that the news is trickled out until people forget about it and move-on. Only to have another tragedy strike soon after. Devastating news for our community RIP Pena and hope the others recover quickly.

  14. Terrible accident – two more on Saturday afternoon but no loss of more life, once again, and have said this since 2013– the Santa monica blvd stretch from Robertson to San Vicente is the hub of over 10% of the entire accidents in the city of West Hollywood- it can’t go back to business as usual– the cops cars jump over the median and drive on both sides of the steeet in any direction- on a regular basis.. by now one might think they would be extra cautious entering and exiting the station and put safety first.

  15. da90027
    Just because you have a WeHoVille screen name doesn’t give you carte blanche to state as fact stuff that has not yet been proven and likely didnt happen
    You repeating something over and over again doesn’t make it true

  16. I find it odd the Sheriff’s claim they hit a car when an eyewitness said they didn’t and there was no car at the scene. Just like that victim they accidentally shot last year they are trying to shift blame. Just once I would like to see them admit they screwed up but in this day and age it seems easier to dole out the ususal excuses. Just because you have a tough job does not mean you have carte blanche to drive like a Nascar racer on a busy street.

  17. @Neil! so let them go at a slower than normal, have tea party, while most likely you and the rest of the populace are on your cell phones, talking and texting, windows rolled up, darkened with tint against the law, and not paying attention to traffic — as you should be. you are part and parcel to all of this, failing to taker the possible responsibility for the accident. that’s your generation — the millennials, who are a disgrace — rude, irresponsible and blaming others for your mistakes self-entitled, self-absorbed, and very disrespectful both to your elders, authority, and officials. that is your parent fault. you may be just a commenter, not even involved, not even there, but you are just as responsible when you are driving, because you affect others, impeding their safety, and you don’t care!

  18. Since I wasn’t there, and the facts have not been disclosed, rather than demonize anyone, I think it is best to wait until all of the facts rather than all of the emotion and gossip expressed thus far, to have an opinion on what happened. All I can say is that I am saddened by any deaths or injuries in our community because ALL LIVES MATTER.

  19. This has wrongful death lawsuit written all over it. I hope the Pena family gets its stuff together, files paperwork and pursues this case doggedly. Don’t settle because this needs to sting the county, a lot.

  20. Such a lovely story. To bad you got the location wrong. See my prior posts. I guess reading comprehension is not your strong point otherwise you would have got it right.

    So many guesses as to what had happened but still no evidence as to the actual cause or how safely or unsafely the Sheriffs car was being operated. And many blame the sheriffs for the accident due to their prior experiences. As a professional driver for over thirty years and an accident investigator I have seen many people who should not even have a license. All to many times instead of pulling to the right and allowing emergency vehicles to pass some idiots will just stop, blocking the emergency vehicles. The CHP has been charged with investigating this accident. Lets await the results of that investigation.

  21. He was my best friend for 2 years! I helped him get his job/life in order, let him live at our place when he needed it and stayed great friends for years. He had 2 jobs and was just trying to go to Weho to relax on the weekend, when a cop runs him over and kills him!! No words other than drive safe, be safe and that Johnny was a really good guy that deserved a full happy life!! 😖

  22. I can’t stop all the recent murdering that’s been going around West Hollywood (accidental and not) but I can try to stop bad journalism; for example, how this article states that the deceased worked at “a gay clothing store in West Hollywood’s Boystown.” I mean, come on – “a gay clothing store?!” Clothes are objects, they can’t be gay or straight, same for stores. And since when is “Boystown” an appropriate regional nomenclature for news reporting? Honestly, who writes your news articles… Jackie Beat?

  23. I knew johnny personally- my heart weighs so heavy on this loss- i have no words, im so sorry i didnt get to say goodbye my fruitfly- youll forever be in my heart you unique soul- love you forever

  24. What disturbs me is that an eyewitness said the patrol HIT NO OTHER car but instead lost control and hit the median which caused it to veer into the sidewalk. I’m really getting sick and tired of law enforcement lying to protect themselves. I’ve been patronizing Weho for 30 plus years and have never seen any Sheriff’s Deputy show restraint in any situation. They hire these gung ho ex marines who have more adrenaline flowing than common sense. Even if this were a murder call they should not be speeding that fast on a narrow ill lit street at night that is always congested. Lights and sirens are fine but not going 55 mph on a street like Santa Monica Blvd.

  25. STOP HIGH SPEED POLICE CHASES…………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    STOP HIGH SPEED POLICE CHASES…………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    STOP HIGH SPEED POLICE CHASES…………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    STOP HIGH SPEED POLICE CHASES…………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    STOP HIGH SPEED POLICE CHASES…………!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. What’s really sad is that they weren’t en route to stop a murder, rape or a robbery. They were racing to protect one spouse from beating up on another. If people took responsibility for their own anger issues, this entire call could have been prevented.

  27. Dr. Fong is my heart doctor. He’s the only one that impressed me with his immense knowledge, skills and abilities. AND may I add got my blood pressure under control. (no other cardiologist was able to do so) I have high blood pressured caused heart failure.

    My wife and I are heart sicken to hear of this tragedy. Our prayers and thoughts are with you Dr. Fong as well as our condolences for your friend.

    I wish to come see you but I’ve been extremely ill from the flu for the past two weeks and I know you don’t need that added to your plate.

    Please come back to us the way you were prior to this incident.

    The world needs more people like you.

    With much love and adoration Erica & Jeff Lee Sr.

  28. We still haven’t heard anything about the car that the dputies “clipped”, or where the deputies entered traffic from: the San Vicente side or the Santa Monica Boulevard side of the station.? (According to a Channel 4 reporter quoting “someone who claimed to have seen it”, the deputies responded from Robertson; not San Vicente, and lights/sirens only started ~ 3 seconds before the collision, perhaps surprising the other driver who may have been watching for pedestrian crosswalk traffic.) Was there sufficient time for the other vehicle to yield? Were they in the process of pulling to the right as required? If so, did the deputies try to pass on the right and thereby inadvertently cause the accident? How is/are the occupant(s) of that other vehicle doing?

    Many MANY more questions still to be answered to get to the bottom of this. In the meantime, thoughts and prayers for those involved–and for a full and truthful accounting and learning of any lessons.

  29. Too unthinkably devastating for words. The most heartbreaking event in this city since the young man John Winkler was needlessly shot & killed by a WeHo sheriff on Palm Avenue. They both linger on my mind as things that should not have happened. In their sorrow, may their loved ones find peace.

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