In December 2019, the Tustin Police Department received a report of a man who was stabbed while walking in his own neighborhood. He passed away shortly after arriving at the hospital.
There was no motive, no suspect, and no witnesses.
It appeared the murder of David Nakaki, 62, was as cold of a case as they come.
But a dedicated group of Tustin police personnel didn’t let that deter them. Instead, for 28 days straight, they got to work.
With their only initial clue coming from doorbell video surveillance footage that captured a car they believed might be the suspect’s, they pressed the case. They walked 14 square miles on foot, contacted 450 people, conducted dozens of interviews, did numerous probation searches, issued six search warrants, and even traveled to Oregon and Arizona.
In the end, they arrested two suspects.
The dramatic cold case that achieved hard-won justice for Nakaki’s family was recognized during the 2019 “Above and Beyond” Awards Banquet, an annual tradition hosted by the Tustin Police Officers Association and Tustin Police Support Services Association.
The award went to a large contingent of Tustin police personnel who worked the Nakaki case: Eric Haug, Ryan Newton, David Nguyen, Shonn Rojas, Greg Schaller, Rob Nelson, Denise Avila, Eileen Chen, Suzanna Howard, Jeff Taylor, Colton Kirwan, Gus Gonzalez, Joe Cossack, Javon Smith, Jorge Sanchez, Charlie Ruelas, David Valencia, Dave Welde, Chris Gerber, and Ryan Coe.
Coe, a lieutenant, noted how the entire group worked through the holidays, rarely taking any time off.
“This was an amazing display of team effort at its very best during one of the most difficult cases we have ever had,” Coe said.
Deputy Chief Jeff Blair read aloud a thank-you letter from Nakaki’s family.
“This is compelling. This is epic,” he commented. “Every time all of you pin on your Tustin Police Department badge before you go in service, you should be proud.”
Another highlight of the awards ceremony held at the Marconi Automotive Museum in Tustin included Lifetime Achievement Awards given to retired sergeants Jim Brabeck and Michael Lamoureaux.
Brabeck started as a reservist with Tustin in 1997. He served for the next 22 years in a variety of roles, such as SWAT officer, gang unit officer, and as a master sergeant.
Lamoureaux began his law enforcement career in 1987 as a border patrol agent before coming to Tustin in 1995, where his duties included detective, gang unit, court certified gang expert, and field training officer. He was also a four-time recipient of the Officer of the Month award.
In his acceptance speech, Lamoureaux expressed his ongoing pride for Tustin police, their hardworking nature, and family togetherness.
“We’re always going to be part of this quilt,” he said. “We will always be together.”
The other 2019 award recipients were:
Explorer of the Year: Nathalie Martinez
Cadet of the Year: George Marin
Volunteer of the Year: Rich Ruedas
Reserve of the Year: Dana Harper
Distinguished Service Award: Danielle Del Merari, Eric Kent, Dave Welde
Lifesaving Award: Eduardo Diaz, Taylor Babb, Diego Gomez
Community Service Award: John Hedges
Community Member Award: Karin Marquez
TPSSA Rookie of the Year: Zhanna Ismailova
TPOA Rookie of the Year: Merwin Caiza
TPSSA Dedication and Professionalism: Eileen Chen
TPOA Dedication and Professionalism: Rob Nelson
TPSSA Supervisor of the Year: Kristin Fettering
TPOA Supervisor of the Year: Dave Welde
TPSSA Employee of the Year: Edwin Urias
TPOA Officer of the Year: Royce Del Merari