Federal Judge Orders Life Sentence Without Parole For Killer of Transportation Security Officer in LA

LOS ANGELES—A federal judge has ordered Paul Ciancia, the killer of Transportation Security Officer Gerardo Hernandez at Los Angeles International Airport three years ago, to serve life in prison, plus 60 years, without possibility of parole.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez in Los Angeles also ordered officials to transport Ciancia to a federal prison psychiatric facility in Minnesota for evaluation and treatment of mental illness.

Ciancia gunned down Hernandez at point-blank range on Nov. 1, 2013. He also wounded two other TSOs and an airline passenger. His rampage shut down the airport for hours and snarled the nation’s air system.

AFGE, the union for the TSOs, did not immediately comment on the Nov. 7 sentence. But it grieved for Hernandez and his family after the shooting and offered aid to them and the two surviving TSOs. Hernandez was an AFGE member.

And just months after the shootings, union President J. David Cox pointedly reminded legislators that while the TSOs – also known as the airport screeners – are posted to protect passengers from the threat of terrorism, the screeners themselves are often very vulnerable.

“TSOs are tasked with keeping America’s airline passengers safe, but the officers are often powerless in the face of danger. All too often, TSOs are verbally and physically assaulted while performing their duties, but prior to 2013 a TSA officer had never been killed in the line of duty,” Cox testified in early 2014.

“In the wake of the LAX shooting, the risk of assaults and mass casualty attacks resulting in the death or injury of our officers is now known all too well. The Internet and traditional media sources are replete with commentary from people who express hatred and vilification aimed at TSA and our officers every day, sometimes in the most horrific terms.

“TSA also has records of employees being physically and verbally assaulted while on duty at checkpoints and elsewhere. The agency must act; this known workplace hazard must be addressed,” Cox said.

The circumstances, where Ciancia deliberately sought to shoot TSOs, while passing up other potential victims, left “Officer Hernandez with little chance for his life,” Cox said then. “TSOs working at the checkpoint had but a moment to literally run for their lives while warning others. The TSO workforce has expressed to our union their continued anxiety about their safety, and who could blame them?”

Ciancia continued that anti-TSO attitude at the sentencing in L.A., the Associated Press reported. Ciancia had previously pled guilty to a 10-count indictment on charges related to the murder and the shootings in return for receiving the life sentence.

One of the wounded TSOs, Tony Grigsby, said of Ciancia that “It’s like he’s inhuman. Seeing him with no kind of remorse made me sad for him.” Testimony showed that after Ciancia initially shot Hernandez down, when the officer moved slightly, the gunman pumped several more bullets into his body.

Source: PAI