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A tiered marquee displays the park’s name to the commuters who zip by. But there is no plaque dedicated to Sasscer, who left behind a 21-year-old widow and is buried in Maryland, his home state. His only other public monument is outside the SAPD station a couple of blocks down, a bas-relief of the young officer looking downward but smiling.

Every May, his name is read in the roll call at the Plaza of the Flags naming of every Orange County law-enforcement official killed in the line of duty. A Santa Ana policemen dresses as Sasscer, down to his badge number: 112.

“You pay tribute to them at the time they pass away, then it becomes a memory,” Walters says. “Unfortunately, as time fades, the memory fades.”

Former OC Black Panther head Daniel Lynem, originally accused of the murder of Officer Nelson Sasscer
John Gilhooley
Former OC Black Panther head Daniel Lynem, originally accused of the murder of Officer Nelson Sasscer
League in an undated photo before his arrest for the murder of Santa Ana Officer Nelson Sasscer
League in an undated photo before his arrest for the murder of Santa Ana Officer Nelson Sasscer

Lynem doesn’t want this tragic episode forgotten, but for different reasons. He regrets fostering the anti-police sentiments that led to the officer’s murder. “I wish it never happened,” he says. But “it’s part of [Orange County’s] total black experience. It’s the truth. It’s what happened. Sasscer’s murder is painful to talk about. But it affected a lot of people. It is what it is.”

garellano@ocweekly.com

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