A Los Angeles Police Department cop who died of coronavirus complications on Friday is the department’s first front-line officer to die of the disease, leaving behind his partner who is 20 weeks pregnant with twins.
Officer Valentin ‘Val’ Martinez, 45, has become the first sworn LAPD officer to die of COVID-19, and the second coronavirus-related officer death in the department.
Martinez was a 13-year veteran who worked as a patrol officer in the Mission Division in San Fernando Valley.
‘Today we lost one of our own, Officer Valentin “Val” Martinez #38701 to COVID-19.’ wrote the Mission Station on Twitter.
‘We are deeply sadden by this horrible news. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and all his loved ones. Thank you for your 13 years of service. Rest Easy Brother.’
The Mission Division erected a small memorial for Martinez in their department building with candles, flower bouquets and a photo of him.
His death came just weeks after senior detention officer Erica McAdoo, 39, became the first non-sworn LAPD officer to die of COVID-19.
The 45-year-old is survived by his mother, siblings and pregnant partner, Megan Flynn.
Flynn is around four months pregnant with the couple’s twin boys that are due in November.
According to the official memorial page Val’s Funds, Martinez tested positive for COVID-19 in May and is believed to have contracted it from work.
‘He fought COVID at home for one week before being rushed to Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita with worsening symptoms,’ the site read.
‘Val was transferred to the ICU at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica on June 10th in order to be placed on a ECMO machine, as his symptoms grew more dire.’
Martinez unfortunately succumbed to the illness after two months of courageously fighting.
‘Val fought for his life every hour, but unfortunately, at 5:33AM on July 24th, Val passed away,’ the site said.
Martinez’ death comes after California officially surpassed New York, the original pandemic epicenter, to have the highest number of cases in the country.
The Golden State, like several other ‘hot spot’ states, have struggled in recent weeks to contain infections.
Los Angeles has the highest count of cases and deaths throughout California – prompting Mayor Eric Garcettit to note that the county is ‘on the brink’ of a second stay-at-home order.
A GoFundMe was also created to help cover the ‘lifetime of expenses ahead’ for Megan as she prepares for the babies arrival.
The couple wasn’t married when Martinez tragically passed away, meaning her health benefits and other expenses are no longer covered by the LAPD.
A number of law enforcement departments and officials shared tributes to Martinez on social media following his death.
Both LAPD Chief Michael Moore and Assistant Commanding Office Alfred Labrada shared photos of the couple on Twitter.
‘Ofcr Martinez, May God welcome you home,’ wrote Moore, while Labrada said ‘Val Rest In Peace Hero #GodSpeed.’
The Los Angeles Police Protective League wrote that Martinez ‘was a hero lost way too early in life.’
‘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,’ they wrote.
Sergeant Garcia called Martinez’s passing a ‘very sad day for the LAPD & Martinez family…May you Rest In Peace Brother.’
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office shared a photo of the Sheriff badge with a mourning band placed over top.
‘Today we salute him & our fellow partners @LAPDHQ. We thank him for his service. Our hearts go out to him and his family,’ they wrote.
In an email obtained by KTLA 5, Chief Moore allowed officers to wear the mourning band as a way to pay tribute to Martinez.
‘Officer Martinez passed away after a long, courageous battle with COVID-19,’ the email read.
‘Our hearts and prayers go out to his loved ones, friends, and his Mission Area family as they grieve the loss of a fallen hero. I am authorizing the wearing of the mourning band in honor of Officer Martinez.’
Shannon Flynn Bevers, a relative of Megan Flynn, shared a heartfelt post on Facebook after Martinez died.
‘At 5:33AM this morning, Val lost his fight to Covid-19. Megan, myself, Val’s mom and one of his brothers were able to be in the ICU with Val,’ she wrote.
‘I can’t even begin to articulate what a beautiful man Val was. He stole all of our hearts instantly and will be missed by many.
‘Thank you to all of our friends, family and community for sharing your love, prayers, healing energy and loving thoughts these past months. It was very comforting knowing you were all there.’
Earlier this month, Erica McAdoo, a 39-year-old senior detention officer, became the first LAPD officer to die of the coronavirus.
It was not immediately clear whether or not she contracted the virus while at work.
As of Wednesday, the LAPD counted 437 employees who had tested positive for coronavirus, 245 who were self-isolating in recovery and 237 that have returned to work.
The fluctuating number of cases affecting the LAPD mirrors the city of Los Angeles as a whole, as cases and deaths continue to rise.
There are more than 400,000 confirmed cases and 8,200 deaths related to coronavirus in California so far.
The California coronavirus dashboard, updated on Thursday, recorded 1,956 new cases and 49 deaths that day.
Cases dropped slightly from over the last two days after there were 3,037 new cases recorded Wednesday and 3,163 on Tuesday. The number of deaths dropped by 10 from Tuesday.
Los Angeles County is leagues ahead of any other California county with 167,198 confirmed cases. The second county, Riverside, has amassed 33,833 cases.
The 14-day rolling average of positive cases in patients at the moment is 6,788 in California, but Thursday saw 6,952 positive infections,
There are more than 2,000 infected patients in the ICU and there are a total of 2,614 available hospital beds.
If California were a country, it would rank fifth in the world for total COVID-19 cases behind only the United States,
California, however, initially succeeded in slowing the spread of the virus but has had a sharp reversal with COVID-19 infection rates climbing sharply in recent weeks.
California residents starting in March were urged to stay home as much as possible and state health orders shut down all but essential businesses such as grocery stores.
Throughout May and June, California reopened much of its economy, and people resumed shopping in stores and dining in restaurants.
The extent of reopening was evident in data that showed California’s unemployment rate fell in June as the state added a record 558,000 jobs.
But infections began to surge and a new round of business restrictions were imposed, including a ban on indoor dining in restaurants and bars.
California’s Governor Gavin Newsom last week rolled back some of his reopening plans for the state by announcing the closure of some indoor venues that attract crowds such as bars, restaurants, movie theaters, zoos and museums.
He also ordered gyms, churches and hair salons to close in the 30 hardest-hit counties of the state.
Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents, reported that younger people were driving the spread of new infections.
More than half of the county’s new cases came from people under age 41 and the county’s COVID-19 deaths was at 4,154 with positive cases topping 161,670, the county’s Department of Public Health said.
‘The tragedy of what we are witnessing is that many of our younger residents are interacting with each other and not adhering to the recommended prevention measures, while our older residents continue to experience the results of this increased spread with the worst health outcomes, including death,’ said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti admitted in an interview with CNN’s State of the Union c that Los Angeles could implement lockdown orders again.
‘I think we’re on the brink of that,’ Garcetti said about a potential second city wide lockdown.
Garcetti put blame for the rocky reopening in Los Angeles County, and across the United States, on a ‘lack of national leadership’
‘I think a lot of things went wrong. We’ve seen no national leadership,’ said Garcetti.
‘We’ve had to stand up testing centers on our own, we’ve had to do so much that is outside of our lane because of the lack of national leadership – but I also think some people are just exhausted.’
‘They were sold a bill of goods, [the Trump administration] said it was under control, they said it would be over soon. And I think when leaders say that, people react and they do the wrong things.