Benedetti served four years in Atascadero before joining the San Luis Obispo SWAT Team
By Hayley Mattson and Camille DeVaul
SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Monday, May 10, a San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) officer was killed in the line of duty as a result of a shooting that occurred while officers were serving a search warrant at an apartment on Camellia Court.
A press conference was held on Tuesday, May 11, to provide details on the incident.
Derek Johnson, San Luis Obispo City Manager, started the conference by saying, “I have the privilege of serving as the city manager for this amazing community. Your City Council and I every single day work along the side of 500 public servants who come to work to make this community better; they have served us tirelessly during the last year and supported our community every day, and we continue to be in awe of their services.”
San Luis Obispo Police Detective Luca Benedetti, a 12-year veteran of law enforcement, was shot and killed Monday. Detective Steve Orozco was injured and transported to Sierra Vista Hospital, where he was treated and released Monday evening. He is expected to make a full recovery.
“Speaking directly to Detective Benedetti’s family, please know how grateful the City Council and I are, and every single member of the community are for the service to keep the community safe. We are heartbroken alongside you; know that the entire city family will walk the path of grief with you and will always remember Luca’s sacrifice,” Johnson shared as he held back tears.
“To the community, I ask for you to join me in offering your support to members of our police department during this difficult time. As an organization and as a community, we are here for them just as they are here for us every day 24-7,” Johnson said while trying to contain his emotions.
Johnson then introduced incoming Police Chief Rick Scott, whose first day is this Thursday; however, due to the shooting, came in yesterday to meet with members of the department and help them at the start of what will be an incredibly difficult journey.
“This is not how a Chief wants to begin his tenor in service, but I can say with absolute certainty that we are fortunate to have him at the helm during this time,” Johnson said.
“I first want to start by speaking directly to our police officers and our men and women. Let me be the first… to formally offer my sincere condolences. We have some fantastic men and women at the San Luis Police Department, and this is an unthinkable tragedy. Each of you come to work knowing any day, something like this could happen. Even still, these incredible men and women brave these odds in service to our community and to each and every one of you. Yesterday was an absolute tragedy; an officer died serving our community. What I saw on my first day on the job was how dedicated each of our officers are and our police family to one another, and they held each other up. Last night our police family wrapped our arms around one another as the words of the officers who were injured in the firefight. I saw expressions of love and support for one another and the amazing strength displayed through this grief. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Detectives Benedetti and Orozco… and I would also like to extend my sympathy to the entire community of San Luis Obispo,” Police Chief Scott said in his first public comment.
At approximately 5 p.m. on Monday, six SLOPD officers served the search warrant for possible stolen property related to a series of late-night commercial burglaries that have taken place over the past week.
Detective Benedetti, alongside Detective Orozco, and four other officers, served the warrant at an apartment on Camellia Court, off Margarita Avenue near South Higuera Street.
As the officers approached the apartment, they provided “knock and notice,” identifying themselves as law enforcement as required by California Penal Code 844. After an extended period of time and having received no response, they forced open the front door where the suspect was lying in wait and began to fire shots at the officers from inside the apartment.
Officers then returned fire and retreated; however, officers Benedetti and Orozco were shot during the exchange of gunfire.
The suspected shooter was identified as Edward Zamora Giron (37), who was later found deceased inside the apartment with an apparent self-inflicted, fatal gunshot wound and other injuries consistent with being struck by the officer’s return fire.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the District Attorney’s Office, will be conducting the investigation into this incident.
“We appreciate their assistance through this difficult time,” said Acting Chief Brian Amoroso. “Having an outside agency conduct the investigation is a standard practice for officer-involved shootings, and we are cooperating fully with their investigation,” he added.
Detective Benedetti is survived by his wife and two young children. He joined the San Luis Obispo Police Department in 2012 and before that served for four years with the Atascadero Police Department.
“I had the distinct pleasure of working with Luca over the past nine years,” Amoroso said. “He was a dedicated officer, a talented detective, a proud member of the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT Team, and most importantly, a loving husband and father.”
“The entire SLOPD is grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from the community,” Amoroso said. “We are also grateful for the continued support from our Central Coast law enforcement partners and beyond. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, along with allied law enforcement agencies in the county, will respond to calls for service in the City of San Luis Obispo during the coming days while members of the SLOPD grieve and work through this tragedy,” he added.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department Police Officer Association and the San Luis Obispo Regional SWAT team setup a GoFundMe page for the sole purpose of providing financial assistance to the Benedetti family going forward in their time of need. All generously donated funds will go directly to Luca’s family as they navigate this very difficult time.