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Former deputy receives probationary sentence for firing weapon

Posted: August 21, 2014 4:53 p.m.
Updated: August 21, 2014 4:53 p.m.

A retired sheriff’s deputy accused of illegally firing his gun after neighborhood kids played a “ding dong ditch” prank on him received a probationary sentence Thursday after pleading no contest to the misdemeanor charge against him.

Sung Jin Pak, 47, of Westridge appeared in Newhall Municipal Court Thursday and entered a plea of no contest to a single count of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.

Judge Valerie Salkin then sentenced Pak to three years probation and ordered him not to own or possession a firearm for 10 years, to attend 26 sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous and perform five days of community service.

Pak was initially charged with felony discharging a firearm with gross negligence.

The confrontation between Pak and pranksters happened about 8 p.m. Oct. 12. It occurred before Pak resigned.

“Apparently, juveniles were playing a prank called ‘ding dong ditch,’ where they ring the doorbell and run away,” then-Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. He added there were reportedly 15 to 20 kids involved.

Pak “ran after the juveniles trying to identify them,” Whitmore said. “Apparently, three of the kids were physically larger than the others and turned toward Pak in a threatening manner,

“The deputy identified himself as a sheriff’s deputy and fired a warning shot in the air,” Whitmore said.

Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey S. Gootman asked the judge Thursday to order Pak to stay away from the children who live on his street, Greenleaf Court.

“I need the names of the children,” Salkin said in considering the request. “If there’s 30 of them then it becomes a tricky situation,” she said.

In the end, Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Kelly Matthews of the Internal Criminal Investigations Branch supplied the judge with a list of the 18 individuals named in his report.

“I am issuing an order to stay away from the individuals named in the report,” Salkin said. “You are not to harass or annoy these children, especially the 18 individuals named in the police report.”

The court also heard Thursday that Pak’s two weapons — a personal firearm and “regular duty weapon,” were no longer in his possession. The personal firearm was surrendered to a licensed gun dealer and destroyed; the duty weapon was turned in to the department.

Pak was also told to pay $150 in restitution.

News of the probation sentence came as little surprise to at least one Greenleaf Court resident.

“I’m not surprised, especially since the way (the charge) was changed to a soft misdemeanor from a felony,” said the resident, who asked that his name not be published. “They took care of their own,” he said of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Since the incident, Pak has been trying to sell his home and move out of the area. One neighbor noted, however, that a “For Sale” sign previously on Pak’s lawn has not been seen there recently.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




DMeyer: Posted: August 21, 2014 8:03 p.m.

Idiot. Got what he deserved. So long nice neighborhood, so long to your career. I will say at least he had the stones to admit to his crime, that's the only credit I'll give him.

stray: Posted: August 21, 2014 9:03 p.m.

"Judge Salkin ordered him not to own or possess a firearm for 10 years"

Just curious... Have the agencies been notified to "flag" this sentence and enter it into record for a future background check in case he attempts to purchase a weapon ??? I doubt it...

Nitsho: Posted: August 21, 2014 10:52 p.m.

Dude fires a gun and gets probation.

I bet if I did the samething, I would be in jail for any number of things. Just becuase he's a former deputy...

kef67: Posted: August 22, 2014 9:36 a.m.

Pak was an Active Deputy when incident occured. LASD covered this one up great. Media reports "selfie" robber case instead.

Unreal: Posted: August 22, 2014 11:38 a.m.

I think the sentence is just. I hope the AA classes help him.

DMeyer: Posted: August 22, 2014 3:44 p.m.

Nitsho go out in the street and fire a round into the air. If no one gets hurt and if you don't have a criminal record you will get get the same sentence, maybe even a little less. With no prior record and no injuries there is no way they can't justify a felony conviction. And it's almost impossible to keep a misdemeanor convict in jail if they have no criminal past.

missyJk: Posted: August 22, 2014 4:28 p.m.

It's just he didnt hit anyone he lost his job and he cant own a gun for 10 years

Unreal: Posted: August 22, 2014 4:40 p.m.

This is fair. He does not seem to have the temperament for law enforcement but he does not need to be in jail. This is a good example of justice.

Unreal: Posted: August 22, 2014 4:45 p.m.

I will say that the comments by Steve Whitmore are misleading to say the least. He is STILL trying to twist this story. Saying he just "ran after them to identify them", and skipping over the part where he picked up a gun to take with him (after he had been drinking). I don't believe that the kids turned toward him in a "menacing manner". That smells like BS.

Before87: Posted: August 22, 2014 9:59 p.m.

Door bell rings and he run's out of the house with a loaded gun.

(Good thing nobody was at the door)

Shoots gun in the air ("It's just he didnt hit anyone") while he
is impaired and chasing kids down the street.

"Pak was also told to pay $150 in restitution." Have court costs and
all the other fees that they jack the general public for gone down
that much.

He lost his job, You can lose your job for smoking in the restroom
at work.

And for my own sanity I can't reply to any of Unreal's posts

Missyjk was that sarcasm?

AdamTwelve: Posted: August 23, 2014 2:11 a.m.

I'm just surprised he still hasn't committed suicide.

TruthandJustice: Posted: August 23, 2014 7:03 p.m.

Well this former law man now can shoot again.. Now that he is a civilian he will get in trouble instead of a slap on the pinkie. The LASD and LA district Attorney took the easy way out. This is what is wrong and angers people. I wouldn't want to be sung pak in this town. Someone should post his picture, so we know what this dangerous drunk looks like.

SCV123: Posted: August 24, 2014 11:17 a.m.

$150? Wow. It's triple that if you go over the speed limit or get photographed by one of the illegal red light cameras. Is that $150 a per-bullet charge, or can he fire as many bullets into the air as he wants for that price?

chefgirl358: Posted: August 24, 2014 9:51 p.m.

Kerf, they didn't cover it up, it was in the paper multiple times since it occurred.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 24, 2014 9:53 p.m.

I think the sentence was fair and he ended up getting in a lot more trouble than any of us would. You wouldn't be fired from Mcdonalds if you did this at home. He deserved to lose his job, I'm not disputing that, I'm just saying I think he was punished pretty heavy and it was a fair sentence.

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