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UPDATED 11/02/09: Tragedy strikes the Burbank Police Department

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Photo 11/01/09: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove —Burbank Police and Fire Headquarters where the flags are flying at half-staff in remembrance of Sgt. Neil Thomas Gunn, Sr.

The Burbank Police Department has taken some pretty big hits lately from lawsuits, investigations, low morale, scandal and now the apparent suicide of one of its patrol officers. According to a press release put out by the Burbank PD, 50-year-old Neil T. Gunn died on a residential city street corner of a self-inflicted gunshot wound yesterday morning.

It happened around 11:40 a.m. near the intersection of Sunset Canyon Drive and Harvard Road in the hillside area. Police officers responded to a slew of 9-1-1 calls and found Gunn. A short time later, Gunn was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.


Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove

At the time of his death, the 22-year veteran patrol officer was apparently on administrative leave after being named in an FBI investigation into police misconduct, according to The Burbank Leader. At least a dozen Burbank police officers are part of that investigation. So far, the FBI has not disclosed the details of the probe.

During his long career, Gunn received a number of awards and commendations including Ministerial Officer of 1992 and department professional esteem awards in 1997 and 2004.

The press release stated: “This incident is a devastating tragedy. The members of the police department and all our city employees share in the grief with his family during this difficult time.”

The investigation into the death of Sgt. Gunn is now being handled by the Glendale Police.

Also, Burbank Blogger Steve Ferguson has a commentary on his site about Gunn’s death. It’s well worth the read.




Photos 10/30/09: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove

A wreath dedicated “In Loving Memory” of Sgt. Neil Gunn was anchored near The Guardians sculpture in front of the Burbank Police and Fire Headquarters when I dropped by the site yesterday.

Photo 10/31/09: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove

Then today, I noticed a second wreath had been added to the flowers, cards, and candles in that memorial to a fallen officer.

Also, I am hearing now that Sgt. Gunn was not on administrative leave when he died. Meanwhile, a lot of unanswered questions and suspicions about Gunn’s death. The press release from the city of Burbank/Burbank PD called the gunshot wound on Gunn’s body self-inflicted. Some, including a resident I spoke to who lives near the scene of the tragedy, doubts the suicide conclusion.

UPDATE 11/01/09

This same resident, who did not want his name used, pointed out to me the spot where Gunn’s body was discovered, beneath some shady trees on a grassy area with blooming pink roses and a large sign for the nearby De Bell Golf Course and some other local attractions. 

Photo 11/01/09: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove

 Near the location attractions sign and not far from the street sign identifying this intersection as Sunset Canyon Drive and Harvard Road, flower bouquets were left in sympathy for Sgt. Gunn.



Photos 10/30/09: FLLLewis/A Writer’s Groove

 I e-mailed a copy of that press release to a friend, Ken Bell, who is a retired investigator for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Ken Bell opines “… there must have been some tattoo (gun powder burn) around the wound indicating that it was close range shooting and a check of GSR (gun power residue on the shooting hand) would have {been}strong evidence that he shot himself…..”   Bell suggests the position of the body and other evidence at the scene could have reinforced that conclusion.

We will probably have to wait until the Glendale Police investigation wraps up and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office releases some part of its report before we have a clearer picture of how Sgt. Gunn died. Hopefully, that information will shed some light on the other important question; why did Gunn die?


Tomorrow’s Burbank City Council meeting is shaping up as a major event and perhaps even a turning point for the Burbank Police Department. I got this media advisory a short time ago.

Also, a source tells me a large number of Burbank Police Officers are planning on attending Tuesday’s council meeting to show support for the family of Sgt. Gunn and to show support for the immediate removal of Police Chief Tim Stehr.

Media Advisory


Burbank police Sgt. Neil Thomas Gunn Sr. family members

to address the media


BURBANK, Calif., November 2, 2009 – The family members of Burbank police Sgt. Neil Thomas Gunn Sr., who died last week will speak to the media following the Burbank City Council meeting tomorrow, November 3, 2009 at 6:00 pm


Sergeant Gunn’s children and other family members will tell the media that Sgt. Gunn’s suicide was motivated, in large part, by the treatment of Sgt. Gunn by the Burbank Police Department .


Sergeant Gunn was a 22-year-veteran and patrol sergeant with the Burbank Police Department. He received numerous commendations for his work, including Ministerial Officer of the Year in 1992, and two departmental Professional Esteem awards.


The Burbank City Council meeting begins tomorrow at 6:00 pm at City Hall, 275 E. Olive Avenue.  It is anticipated that the family will talk to the media at 6:30 pm outside of the Council Chambers.   

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29 Responses to UPDATED 11/02/09: Tragedy strikes the Burbank Police Department

  1. Tim Friday, October 30, 2009 at 2:56 pm #

    Another officer who has won awards makes the news. Something is very wrong with Burbank. Let’s see, we have Deputy Chief Bill Taylor filing a lawsuit, we have Detective Dunn who was highly decorated filing a lawsuit and we have horrible moral. Now we have yet another decorated officer only this time it is a suicide. What does it take for some city council members and this so called police commission to really realize there are serious problems ?

    Cit Council what more needs to happen before you get off your rear ends and start to clean up this city ?

  2. Larry Friday, October 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm #

    All they do is deny problems and act with revenge against people who bring up any problem. These people incharge have got to go for all this to end.

  3. Stretch Friday, October 30, 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    My condolences to the family and friends of this highly regarded officer. Unfortunately, none of the recent revelations have convinced the city council and or managers to do anything about Chief Stehr and his advisers (Juli Scott and Flad). It is common knowledge that the FBI is investigating Tim Stehr…why is he still there?

    Many of the people interviewed by the city’s lawyer Krysler, have expressed that nothing is being investigated regarding the allegations by officers suing. Neil Gunn was not suing the department, but it is known that he reported misconduct to the Chief and was threatened that his wife and son who both work for the city would be “affected”.

    Golonski, Barlow, Scott, Flad, Stehr, Rosoff, the BPOA, and anyone else whose hands are dirty…Lady Justice does not rest.

  4. Fronnie Friday, October 30, 2009 at 3:47 pm #

    This is terrible. Sgt. Gunn does the right thing and reports misconduct and what happens? He’s threatened and reaches a point apparently where he felt suicide was the only option for him.

    For the situation in the Burbank Police Department to get that bad is just awful. Something needs to be done, and done quickly before another tragedy occurs.

  5. JK Friday, October 30, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

    More on the events regarding Sergent Neil T Gun yesterday

  6. Incognito Friday, October 30, 2009 at 4:51 pm #

    I learned about his death yesterday and it just devasted me, because I can’t imagine what was going through his mind, his family, his career all at once. May he rest in peace.

    How tragic that a 22 year decorated officer had to die, all because a selective few kept looking the other way when he was asking for help.

    What more is it going to take for this community to Scream and Demand answers to these problems. They can’t honestly keeping telling us everything is okay and expect us to believe it, especially not after this tragic loss.

    May Sgt Gunn be remembered for his 22 years of service to this community and rest in peace.

    Hierarchy, WHO ever you may be!!!! Stand up and be accountable, because this man’s blood is on your hands.

    Sad to see that he was put on administrative leave, but all the others are still working and conducting business as usual.

    GOD help the citizens of this community of we don’t learn from this.

  7. Tim Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 4:41 am #

    This blog which I just recently learned about, I have to question. Are you reporting the truth or just your opinions. How does Ms Lewis know that that the officer that that took his own life reported misconduct and his life was threatened? Sorry,I have trouble believing that you know that and if you do, tell us why and where you got your info, that we will never hear. Easy to make a statement, proof it.

  8. Mike Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 11:06 am #

    Proof it ? Maybe Time means proove it ?

    Tim you read as well as you spell, I re-read what Ms Miss Lewis wrote, see above, and no where does she say what you just said.

    Reading what you said however tells me you clearly have something to hide. Could it be you work for the city ?

  9. Lotta per la vita Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 11:20 am #


    Take a look at what’s in front of you, The Burbank Police Commission, the Probe, and everything else that goes with it.

    A decorated Police Officer taking his own life? I find it hard to believe that a Top Notch police officer with over 22 years with his department would take his own life. What is it that Burbank, is hiding?It’s like Burbank would basically turn a gun on their own officer. Sadly it’s beginning to look like The Probe at Rampart (LAPD)

  10. Buzzie Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 11:32 am #

    Tim wants someone to prove that evberything is going wrong in Burbank ?

    Let’s see, Police Officers are suing the city, The Sheriffs are investigating the city, The Federal Bureau of Investigations are investigating the city, Police are calling in sick, Police are placed on forced leave by sheriffs, the city hires tons of attorneys to represent everyone, there is a city paid for interna; investigation, and now a police sergent kills himself on a street in front of people.

    Oh sure Tim there is no reason for any of us to believe that there is any truth to statements that things are wrong in Burbank. Keep saying there is no truth to all of this, denial is a great way to deal with problems infact it is how our city council seems to deal with every problem.

  11. Gone Nuts Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 11:51 am #


    Well said. After all the crap this city has seen in the last six months, if these people don’t believe that there are MAJOR problems with police and city gov’t (don’t forget the fire chief) then they NEVER will! Ignorance is bliss!!!!

  12. Al in SoCal Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    Honestly – I would also like to know where “it is known” that Gunn submitted a complaint and then was threatened by city officials.

    The reports that the local / national media are picking up are not so nice:

    If Gunn did put in a complaint before the FBI probe that would make a huge difference in how this is being reported.

  13. Omah Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 4:46 pm #

    Before making comments like yours, please think of the family and what they are going through. He has left behind a wife and children, sister and others. They are devestated by this news, and comments such as yours makes it even harder. Thank you.
    May the Lord bring comfort to each of the family members. May Mr. Gunn rest in peace.

  14. Cathy Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 12:44 am #

    This tragic event came to my attention through a friend who went to Burbank High with me many years ago and I have posted on my blog some questions I have regarding this story:

  15. DixieFlyer Sunday, November 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm #

    Sorry Cathy,
    You have beaten this drum long enough.
    While you may have legitimately questioned what you perceived as an inconsistency, let’s STOP it.
    When the LEADER posted their first Blog there was no public indication of Sgt. Gunn’s identity.
    Later, after the I.D. was public info, the LEADER ran with the confirmed information.
    Out of OBVIOUS respect, the physical description was deleted.
    You can wait with everyone else for more info.
    Hopefully, the family of Sgt. Gunn can be spared the speculation on “the propensity of folks to use certain methods…”.

  16. Incognito Monday, November 2, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    Tim, Cathy & Al So Cal,

    Are you kidding me when you ask if this is true????

    Are you part of the hierarchy employed by the city?

    Let me pose the question to you this way. Let’s say for argument sake that only a fraction, lets say a 1/4 of it is true, does that make it acceptable? This arbitrary & capricious behavior of the righteous is what has this community upside down and this once upon a time great dept has MAJOR issues. That does not mean that all the officer’s are corrupt.

    What I am asking is for people to really analyze the situation at hand. 30 of about 170 officers are asking for advise from legal counsel, 7 lawsuits, numerous investigations from different branches of outside departments (especially the FBI), many other issues and now the loss of a decorated officer Sgt Gunn. Are you telling me this is not enough!.

    What else do you really want to happen before you ask questions or believe. Fronnie, writes from facts not for poops & giggles, I’m sure there will be more to uncover, but she can only do so much.

    Let’s give some respect to Sgt Gunn’s family, especially during this time of mourning. I personally thank them for having allowed him to serve this community for so long and giving up so much of their lives, so that we could live in a safe community.

    Gunn family, may Sgt Gunn rest in peace and may God grant you the peace that you need to help you fill the void.

  17. Al in SoCal Monday, November 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm #

    Obviously you didn’t get the gist of my post. I asked for some story – some information – something – anything that showed that Sgt. Gunn put in a complaint and was subsequently threatened. It’s like everyone here “knows” it to be a fact – but where was this reported?

    THEN I said – if this is true – it’s shocking that it didn’t make in the national newsfeed because the national stories are not putting this tragedy in the best light and this information would have made those stories MUCH different. See?

    PLUS – please don’t paint me in the same picture as anyone disgracing this officer – as I did no such thing. Thanks…

  18. Going Nuts Monday, November 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

    Al in so cal,

    Its nice to see your civilty and your quest to look at facts. I hear as early as tomorrow there will be some big news regarding the truth surrounding all of this scandal.

    The city will no longer be able to hide behind the city attorney!

  19. Cathy Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 12:25 am #

    Due to the track record of certain folks within the Burbank government, my concern is that the truth of the matter may be hindered, thus the reason I simply am asking a few questions.

    My heart breaks for the pain that the Gunn family is suffering and I pray for the Lord Jesus Christ to comfort and bring healing to each of them.

  20. Fronnie Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 12:26 am #


    See 11/02/09 update in the above story. Sgt. Neil Gunn’s family plans to speak out and a show of support for them by Burbank Police Officers is apparently planned for tomorrow’s city council meeting.

    Also, there is growing support in the Burbank PD for the ouster of Police Chief Tim Stehr.

  21. DixieFlyer Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    Word on the street has it that a “Vote of (no) Confidence” in the Police Chief will be considered at a meeting of the Burbank Police Officers Association next week.
    The members were thwarted in their previous attempt.
    There was another attempt to hold off this vehicle for the membership to voice their sentiments–they circulated a petition, and expect to exercise their rights within the Association.

  22. JK Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 1:36 pm #

    What’s up in Burbank on tonights press conference

  23. Cathy Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 10:32 pm #

    Regarding her deceased husband, Sgt. Neil Gunn Sr, Tina Gunn tells the LA Times today, “The department turned its back on him.”

  24. Incognito Wednesday, November 4, 2009 at 4:24 pm #

    Al & Cathy, no disrespect intended.

    And I appreciate that you want to get to the bottom of it all, as I do.

    We should have major concerns for the alleged truth we are being told by the selective few.

    Lt. Rodriguez dropped a major time bomb on Bric last night, when he clearly stated that in April of 2009, he personally spoke with Bric about the issues they were facing in the department and pleaded for his help, suffice it to say, he had NO choice, but to acknowledge that Lt. Rodriguez had addressed, but NOTHING was done.

    Sad to say that they are still in a state of oblivion and are not dealing with the truth. Which than leads me to the following, the city council and upper management is insulting the intelligence of this community.

    If you are reading these blogs/comments, note that we will no longer accept your truth, to be the facts and you ALL better get off your seats and do some MAJOR investigating of your own, you have the resources and sure as heck know how to spend our tax payers dollars, so put it to MUCH needed good use IMMEDIATELY.

    There is a writer in Somona, CA that is writing articles about Burbank and they seem to have a little more information than our own leaders! How scary is that!

  25. Cathy Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 10:00 am #

    fyi – put on youtube much of Tues, Oct 3, 2009, city council mtg for everyone to see what was said and the responses:

  26. bsf Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 12:24 pm #

    Councilman Gordon calls for the removal of Police Chief Stehr


  27. JK Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm #

    In the crisis, Just where is the Burbank Police Commission ?

  28. Al in SoCal Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 8:09 pm #

    What happened 26 months ago that Lt. Rodriguez alluded to in his comments?

  29. Incognito Friday, November 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    Al, he stated that the troubles were noted 26 months ago, but NO one at the council was interested in finding out, otherwise they would have asked and since he is NOT a liberty to say!

    If ALL the officers were not on GAG order, maybe we could get more information, but since we have to intimidate them, they are NOT allowed to speak to ANYONE about their problems, including their families.

    Please 3 different investigations going on and you want us to believe that not a one of them has the smarts to do some much needed research? If that’s the case, a monkey can perform their jobs and probably more effective, since they would be viewed as cute creatures. These jerks are just mean, cold heart and ugly.

    The Christopher Commission should come out to clean house. Notice how quickly the LAPD & Rampart division clean there act. Someone with authority with NO ties to the community.

    A 2nd round of conversation about a vote of No confidence, should tell this community something.

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