Remembering Culver City Police Lt. Curt Massey
February 7, 2019
Courtesy Culver City Police Department
It was 10 years ago this week that word spread about a fiery head-on collision on the 10-freeway involving a local police officer. Then Sgt. Curtis Massey, a 17-year veteran of the Culver City Police Department. died instantly when the wrong-way driver slammed head-on into his unmarked patrol car while he was on his way to work on January 28, 2009.
As word spread through the city that morning, my phone rang constantly as people woke up to the news that a Culver City Police Officer had died. When I said it was Curt Massey, the response was almost the same, "oh no, he was one of the good guys, he did so much for everyone in the city."
Massey spent 17 years with the police department and was a true hero to all of the officers who had the honor of working with him. A Medal of Valor recipient, Curt had a tremendous dedication to duty as well as an admirable drive to protect and serve the public.
He was constantly involved in community outreach programs such as the Culver City Police Department's Citizen Police Academy, the CCPD Annual Open House, and the Fiesta La Ballona. Curt, who was the sergeant assigned to the Juvenile Detective Bureau, had dedicated his career to youth programs such as Juvenile Diversion, which mentored at-risk teens, the CCPD School Resource Officer program, and the annual Santa's Sleigh.
At that time, Megan Gallagher, a former community service officer who worked with the department for five years, was shocked when she heard the news about Massey, a colleague who had served as her mentor.
"He was someone I looked up to and someone I trusted at the station," she said. "Being one of the few females there, it's kind of hard to talk to everybody. When I started there, we have to get our uniforms and he offered up his jacket, so I didn't have to spend the money. He made my first days there comfortable. He was an automatic friend from Day 1."
Then Mayor Scott Malsin said that Sgt. Massey was "soft-spoken, very well liked and often in the community."
He called Sgt. Massey "the quintessential officer," a symbol of the department of 115 sworn officers.
Massey drove a special police vehicle loaded with heavy duty arms and munitions designed to assist police officers in situations where suspects used military style assault weapons.
Massey carried the weapons as a result of a bank holdup in 1997 which was referred as the "Battle of North Hollywood." That year, two gunmen armed with military grade assault rifles and covered in body armor robbed the bank of America branch in North Hollywood. Responding LAPD officers arrived on the scene with guns that could have been compared to peashooters against the well-armed gunmen. In all, 12 police officers and eight civilians were injured but survived the carnage. The event changed the face of policing forever with patrol units carrying weapons to respond to such incidents. Massey's patrol vehicle was one of those with special weapons.
When I arrived at the January 2009 accident scene, Masseys patrol car was completely destroyed and had burned down to the axles.
Massey was a sergeant when he was killed. But the Culver City Police Department announced that he was being promoted to lieutenant.
"This promotion was not made based on grief or sympathy," then Culver City Police Chief Donald Pederson told City News Service at the time. "It was made because Curt was eligible for this promotion, he has earned it, he has always demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and has a proven record of success. It was simply the right thing to do."
Massey was the second Culver City Police Officer killed in the line of duty. Police Officer Alonzo H. "Lonnie" Garwood was killed in a motorcycle accident while conducting traffic enforcement Sunday, September 4, 1921. His body was found next to his police motorcycle.
Massey, 41, left behind his wife, Melody, and three children who are now 13, 18 and 20.