A road sign that commemorates a fallen Asian American deputy in La Quinta, California was reportedly found defaced on Wednesday morning.
The sign, located on the westbound side of Highway 111 — between Jefferson Street and Dune Palms Road — is one of several dedicated to Bruce K. Lee, a 23-year veteran of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
Lee, 45, was beaten to death with his own baton while responding to a domestic violence call on May 13, 2003. His assailant, Kevin Diabo, 24, was shot dead by another deputy minutes later.
“Bruce didn’t do anything wrong,” former Riverside County Sheriff Bob Doyle told the Los Angeles Times at the time. “We give our deputies a lot of discretion in these situations. They have to make decisions based on their assessment of the situation, and he didn’t do anything outside of procedure. The investigation indicates that [Lee] made contact with [Diabo] and the guy went off on him. That’s happened to all of us at least once in our career. Unfortunately in this case, it was a fatal.”
Doyle described Lee as “the ultimate professional” who had never received a single complaint. “He was quiet, unassuming, mature. His work was impeccable, and he did it all: training officer, courts, traffic. He took a lot of pride in being a peace officer,” Doyle added.
By December 2005, the city of La Quinta dedicated a section of Highway 111 for signs in Lee’s memory, including the one defaced with the word “worst” this week.
The vandalized sign has since been scrubbed clean, but city officials are investigating. Anyone with information is urged to contact the La Quinta Sheriff’s Station at (760) 863-8990.
“The City of La Quinta does not condone any type of graffiti vandalism in our City,” officials said in a statement, according to KESQ. “The markings will be shared with Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in the event that additional vandalism takes place or these markings are related to other graffiti incidents.”