Tag Archives: Fallen Officers

Police Honor Fallen Fellow Officers with Wreath Ceremony

From the Burbank Police Officers Association Website:

Friday marked the anniversary of BPD Fallen Officer Matthew Pavelka, End of Watch, November 15, 2003.   Matthew Pavelka was appointed as an officer for the City of Burbank on August 5, 2002.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

The BPD had not lost an officer in the line of duty by gunfire for more than eighty-three years.  On the evening of November 15, 2003, that all changed.  Veteran Officer Gregory Campbell had stopped a vehicle, without license plates, containing two males.  The area where the stop was made was well known for drug trafficking and other criminal activity, so Campbell wisely called for backup.

The first officer to respond was 26-year old Mathew Pavelka, who had been in the field as a police officer for just ten months.  When Campbell and Pavelka approached the suspect vehicle and ordered the two male subjects to exit the vehicle, they both alighted firing automatic weapons.  Both Campbell and Pavelka were wounded several times, but in the ensuing exchange of gunfire, the officers mortally wounded one of the gunmen.  The other suspect escaped on foot.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Both of the wounded officers were transported to a local hospital, where Officer Pavelka died during surgery and Officer Campbell was treated and remained in critical but stable condition.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 27, 2003, the suspect who fled was taken into custody.

Matthew Pavelka was remembered by more than one of his fellow officers as a charming, light-hearted 26-year-old, with a crown of spiky orange hair, who loved being a cop.

Saturday marks the anniversary of BPD Fallen Deputy City Marshal Luther Colson, End of Watch, November 16, 1914.  Luther Colson was appointed as a City Marshal for the City of Burbank on February 21, 1914.

Colson was on duty November 16, 1914, at approximately 7:00 p.m., when he was walking the tracks in the area of the “Y” – a quarter-mile north of town.  Some suspects started shooting at him from the Willows.  One bullet struck him in the stomach.  Colson returned their fire from his own weapon, and after several shots, the suspects fled into the darkness.

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Colson started to return to town but collapsed, and some citizens transported him to Burbank Hospital for treatment.

The Marshal of Tropico (a small community located at Los Feliz and San Fernando Boulevard, now part of Glendale), with twenty-five deputies, immediately started a manhunt.  On November 18, 1914, three suspects were apprehended.  One suspect had a weapon on him which was the same caliber that was used in wounding Marshal Colson.  After a lengthy interrogation, all the suspects confessed to the shooting.

We will always honor our heroes for their service and the ultimate sacrifice they made to secure our safety.

Written by Lieutenant J.J. Puglisi, BPOA President

Burbank Police Unveil New Mural to Honor Fallen Officers (Plus Video)

The City of Burbank Police unveiled a new mural at its station last month commemorating police who lost their lives in the line of duty.

The wall-size mural depicts officers and deputy marshals from various eras with the vehicles they used and dressed in clothing and uniforms from their time period.  The mural’s subjects: Marshal Luther Colson, Deputy City Marshal Robert L. Normand, Officer Joseph R. Wilson, Officer Richard E. Kunkle, and Officer Matthew Pavelka, stand alongside each other with two of the officers sitting on their motorcycles.  Each officer stands before a backdrop of the Burbank police station from their time period. 

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

The ages of the deceased range from middle-aged to early twenties.  The five officers and deputy marshals are the only Burbank police force members to be killed in the line of duty from the 1920s to the early 2000s.  

The mural was the brainchild of Sergeant Mark Stohl an 18 year veteran of the force.  The tall, unassuming, soft-spoken man felt the station needed a memorial to the fallen. 

“I wanted it to be something that would be able to integrate all of the officers based on the fact its ninety years [the age of the Burbank police], and the differences between some of them, into one cohesive piece,” Stohl said.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Its location is in front of the station’s back entrance doors. The smiling subjects of the colorful mural greet police officers as they arrive to start their shifts. 

Stohl said, “We have a lot of younger officers here who may not know the history.  That’s the reason why we chose this place to put it, so every day when you come into work you have to pass by it.” 

“It’s a good way to remind every one of the sacrifices these people have made,” Stohl said.  “To hope that no one else has to be put up on the wall.” 

At the top of the mural, painted by artist Jeanine Hattas Wilson, are the name and date of death for each officer and marshal appear on an image of what would have been their badges.  On either side of the painting, lions appear to be standing guard over the police officers. 

Present in the mural is a cheerful reddish hair twenty-something officer, who looks to be the most confident, is Matthew Pavelka who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in 2003. He had been on the force a year. 

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

Stohl’s inspiration for the mural came from a small memorial to the fallen officers in the administrative section of the station.

“In my opinion, it was lacking.  It just wasn’t the type of memorial I thought we should have for the sacrifice these people have made,” Stohl said quietly.

 The Burbank Police Officer’s Association and the non-profit Burbank Police Foundation both paid for the mural.  Lieutenant Claudio Losacco who sits on the boards of both groups was the facilitator for obtaining the funding. 

“He came to me and asked how can we make this happen,” Losacco said.  “He went to both the Association and the Foundation and pitched it [the mural] and went to the company who actually did the work, got a quote from them, got some exemplars and both the boards decided, yes we will spend the money to make it happen.”

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Stohl said thoughtfully.  “That is what it’s here for, to honor their memory.  To let people remember this is a dangerous job”

Burbank Police have also produced a time-lapse video of the mural that can be seen here.


Editor’s Note the excerpt was changed as Sgt. Mark Stohl is currently with the Burbank Police Dept. 

Burbank Police Officers Association Remembers Fallen Officers

November 15, 2012, marked the ninth anniversary of Officer Matthew Pavelka’s death while responding to Officer Gregory Campbell’s call for backup. Both officers were wounded and transported to a local hospital, where Officer Pavelka died during surgery. Officer Pavelka had been in the field as a police officer for just ten months.

Members of the Burbank Police Officers’ Association commemorated the day by paying their respects to Officer Pavelka and the four other Burbank Police Officers who have given their lives in line of duty by wearing dress uniforms and laying a wreath next to the Guardian Statue in front of Police / Fire Headquarters.