Watch CBS News

Retired LAPD Officer Remembers North Hollywood Shootout As 15th Anniversary Nears

NORTH HOLLYWOOD (CBS) — It's one of those events that everyone has a story about.

The date was February 28, 1997. Where were you when the North Hollywood shootout happened?

LAPD Officer John Caprarelli didn't get to watch it unfold live on TV like most of us -- he was on the frontlines.

Now retired, Caprarelli is author of a new book -- "Uniform Decisions: My Life In The LAPD And The North Hollywood Shootout" -- about that fateful day.

Caprarelli was one of the first officers on the scene.

Eleven officers and two civilians were wounded in the hours-long shootout outside the Bank of America at 6600 Laurel Canyon Boulevard.

The two men who had just robbed a bank in North Hollywood -- Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. and Emil Matasareanu -- both killed by gunfire.

The robbers were armed to the teeth -- they had assault rifiles and body armor. They fired more than 1100 rounds at law enforcement officers during one of the longest, and bloodiest, shootouts in history.

"At one point I looked up," remembers Caprarelli, "and I saw Larry Phillips with a rifle pointed at me."

He fired? "He fired and missed," recalls Caprarelli.

Caprarelli's bravery on that day earned him a Medal of Valor and a national Top Cop award. He also earned a stress-related stroke five years later.

He recently went back to the shootout location with CBS2 and KCAL9 reporter/anchor Serene Branson to talk about that day and how he will never get it out of his mind.

After that day, Caprarelli had trouble sleeping. Despite his setbacks, Caprarelli considers himself a lucky survivor. Three of his colleagues from that day, later took their own lives.

Branson says if you read his harrowing book, it is doubtful you will ever get that day out of your mind either. Whether you were there or watching it on TV...a portion of the proceeds goes to the LA Police Historical Society and LAPD Wives Association.

For more about officer Caprarelli and his book, click  here.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.