By Ed Meckle, Retired LAPD
Every word of what you about to read is true. I was not present but verified the facts from two people who were.
Edmund M. Lutes was a sergeant working with me in O.C.I.D. [Organized Crime Intelligence Division] when this occurred. Ed was fluent in German and Russian and was occasionally called upon to translate. On this occasion he was contacted by divisional detectives and asked if he could speak to a Ukrainian, who professed not to speak English. Ed told the detectives that the Ukrainian probably spoke Russian, so yes he could. He was briefed that the Ukrainian was in the hospital jail ward recovering from wounds he received in a gunfight with an L.A.P.D sergeant who was also wounded. The foreign man was also believed to be a deserter from the Soviet Army and was wanted for questioning regarding a murder in Canada. Ed was asked to obtain some basic information but under no circumstances mention the Canadian homicide.
Ed entered the jail ward while several other detectives were present but did not
acknowledge them nor even look in their direction. Ed wore a three button suit all done up with a small red star in his lapel looking for all the world like Hollywood’s version of a KGB agent. He did not introduce himself to the Ukrainian but produced a fingerprint kit and rolled the prisoners prints [the prisoner had, of course, been printed days before]. Ed then filled out the written portion of the card in Russian, allowing the prisoner to see it. Ed obtained he information the detectives needed and then told the Ukrainian, “Do not concern yourself with these petty charges brought by the Americans. Remember you are still a Soviet solder and you belong to Mother Russia.”
With not a word to the detectives nor the Ukrainian, Ed left.
Several hours later, Ed got a phone call back at the office from the lead detective. “What in the hell did you say to the prisoner? After you left he had an epiphany and suddenly realized he spoke English he also volunteered a statement about the Canadian homicide.”
The prisoner was later extradited to Canada and convicted of killing a man during a robbery. When Ed testified during the trial and identified himself as a police sergeant, the prisoner put his head down on the table realizing he had been the victim of an expert flim-flam.
Ed Lutes served 23 years with the L.A.P.D., passed the state bar exam and served another 27 years as a Deputy District Attorney for a total of 50 years in law enforcement.
Ed was a true renaissance man. He knew a lot of things about a lot of things; he was a graduate engineer he attended Penn State and V.M.I., and served in the U.S.M.C. [Semper Fi]. I was his friend from the day we met in 1962. He went E.O.W. (End of Watch) on 6-24-16.
I shall miss him.