Officer Martin L. Ganz

Officer Martin L. Ganz

Manhattan Beach Police Department, California

End of Watch Monday, December 27, 1993

Add to My Heroes

Martin L. Ganz

Officer Martin Ganz was shot and killed while making a traffic stop. As he was outside of the patrol car the driver of the other car exited and started firing at him. Officer Ganz tried to take cover behind his vehicle but was shot numerous times. Officer Ganz's 12-year-old nephew was on a ride along with him and the suspect attempted to shoot at him, but his gun misfired and the boy was not harmed.

The suspect was arrested approximately eight months later in connection with another murder in Oregon. The suspect was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the Oregon murder. In December 1998 the suspect was sentenced to death for the murder of Officer Ganz.

On the 12th anniversary of Officer Ganz's murder, a section of the I-405, between Hawthorne Boulevard and Rosecrans Avenue, was renamed the Martin L. Ganz Memorial Highway.

Officer Ganz was a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and had served with the Manhattan Beach Police Department for five years. He was survived by his fiancee.

Bio

  • Age 29
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge 226
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; .380 caliber
  • Offender Sentenced to death

Most Recent Reflection

View all 66 Reflections

My name is Steve Caros. I am a retired Manhattan Beach Police Officer, and I was on duty the night Roger Brady shot Marty Ganz. I want, correction; I need to reflect on a number of things regarding that night. I hope that some purpose beyond remembering what a good guy Marty was, will be served in my doing so. And I ask forgiveness for the length of my reflections.

Marty and I were close, the kind of close that a member of one generation is with a member of the up and coming younger generation. We did not hang out much off duty, but we very much did so on duty. It was very routine that Marty and I would talk before work in the locker room and at Code 7. We spoke of life, love, and the Vehicle Code. He was an extremely precise Officer, which brings up the first order of business;
That is to fix something that I am sure Marty would want fixed. Although Marty was the first Manhattan Beach Police Officer to be killed by gunfire, he was not the first MBPD Officer to be killed in the line of duty. This distinction has unfortunately been blurred many times over the past 25 years. Marty was the third Officer to be killed, and may God be gracious, the last.

The first Officer to die in the line of duty was Officer Charlie Grau. His death was doubly tragic because the City failed to recognize for years that his death was related to an on duty assault while handling a domestic dispute. Grau was struck in the head, but not until months later did he succumb to his injuries. It was over 40 years later that Officer Grau would be properly memorialized by the PD Administration. The current administration has kept this recognition moving forward and my hat is off to them.

The second Manhattan Beach Police Officer to die in the line of duty was Motor Officer Timothy Giles. I have been given two versions of what happened, but what is clear is that he was killed on his motor cycle while performing traffic enforcement.

And then 31 years later, there was Marty. At this point I wish to underscore what I learned in the Academy, what I taught all of my trainees, and what holds true today for all of you current officers; There can be grave danger found in simple domestic disputes, operating a police vehicle, and in making “routine” traffic stops. These three men clearly prove this. Please embrace this and go home safe!

Now specifically, I need to reflect on life and Marty Ganz’ fateful encounter. For me, things began a month before that night when I sought to persuade Sgt. Milligan to bend the rule of having to be 16 to ride along in a MBPD patrol car. My son was to be 12 in mid-December and I wanted to take him for a ride for his birthday. Mike granted me permission, and my son and I had a great evening.

Exactly two weeks later on December 27th, 1993 Marty greeted me in the locker room and cheerfully shared that he had his 12 year old nephew Don out from Florida, and he was going to get to ride along like my son had. Marty was our shift motor and to facilitate this ride, he parked his bike for the shift and checked out a Chevy. Thus the first “domino” fell.

That Monday night was REALLY cold and being after the Christmas weekend, was really quiet. In the vernacular, “nothing was moving”. After many hours of cruising around, I dropped by my house to say goodnight to my second son as ironically this was his birthday.

It seemed like there had been virtually no radio traffic all night and certainly none for the past hour. I didn’t know it yet, but the second domino had fallen. Marty was wanting very much to show his nephew some action, or at least some police work. He had spotted a little import that had stopped way over the “limit line” and determined to see if the driver was DUI. As the driver entered the mall, Marty directed him to pull over. Apparently, focused on the DUI and perhaps lolled by the quiet and the cold, Marty chose to forego broadcasting his traffic stop. The rest of the shift remained in quiet ignorance.

The third domino fell when what I describe as a bunch of garbage came out over the radio. At first it didn’t register as a neighboring agency had occasionally “cut up” on the air. Being on my “portable”, I thought it was more of that, and was therefore not alerted. It was Sgt. Milligan listening on the station speaker, and Officer Tim Zins listening on his unit radio that knew quickly that something was happening. More seconds would pass before anyone would know where. Sgt. Milligan then began interpreting over the air what was happening as two different citizens were hysterically calling for help. I believe the first was possibly Marty’s nephew.

Now I knew there was bad trouble, I just didn’t know where. I threw on my lights and siren and headed towards the center of town. Soon enough, I was on my way to the Mall, and one of the most chaotic scenes I would encounter as a Police Officer. I found Marty on the sidewalk and he was being looked after by someone, probably Tim Zins. I then went to work putting out the crime broadcast and the fourth domino fell. In all the confusion, what seemed like my best witness described the suspect as driving away in a big older full sized American made car. All wrong.

Even worse was the fifth domino. Ironically, Hawthorne PD had a DUI task force out with something like 10 extra cars in the field. What an opportunity. That opportunity was delayed when their frequency did not get the broadcast such as it was until minutes later. Therefore, Roger Hoan Brady escaped into the cold, quiet night to the falling of the sixth domino. A year later up in Oregon, he shot and killed a nurse (Catalina Correa) who was a witness in the course of a robbery by Brady. It was the same gun he used against Marty. Brady had also shot at another witness, but did not hit him.

Thus the casualty list would be two deaths and two very traumatized witnesses, particularly Marty’s nephew Don. But not just so, there were many, many more “casualties” or if you prefer, “victims” than these four to be revealed.

After putting out the broadcast, and then fetching Don out of the bushes lining the bank where he eventually had retreated. I went back to Marty. Viet Nam Veteran and MBFD paramedic Lance was now in charge of that part of the scene and was incredibly cool and personally brought a number of first responders back up from their shock to do their jobs. It was then that I turned to Fire Captain and close friend Ken Shuck and commented on what was happening. He turned to me and burst out in relief, “Oh Steve, I thought this was you”. (Due to trauma Marty could not easily be recognized). Just as suddenly, Ken realized there was no relief to be felt as this was still a MBPD Officer. Ken’s look of guilt for his initial reaction would be the first struggle with guilt and anxiety that I would witness for some time to come. Including my own…
As a Christian I know that we are to avoid “vain imaginations”, but it took some time to work out the “only ifs” and those six dominoes. Only if I had not sought permission to bend the ride along rule, only if Marty was not of the mind to take a car out, only if we would have been at one of his many code 7s (probably at McDonalds). We would have simply heard the call of a robbery go out, sped down Sepulveda, and ended up taking a basic report. Yeah, only if. But only if life were linear there wouldn’t be as much of a need for Police Officers.

And then there was the anxiety. As you can imagine the anxiety felt by the Ganz family, as well as those of us who knew Marty. But there was another kind of anxiety as well. I have never shared this in 25 years, but there was a sort of hyper tension that bordered on fear that followed for at least two days. Virtually all of us felt it, even those that weren’t on duty that night. The brass doubled us up into Adam (2 man) units, and for the most part kept us in the station for those two days. I was paired with one of the toughest guys in our department, and I remember sitting in the patrol car in the El Porto lot when he shared that he was feeling this anxiety. It helped to know that I was not the only one who was thinking, “if they could get Marty, they could get any of us”.

Yes, Marty was all the things said in these reflections. He was truly a good guy, and he was my friend and partner. I would love to tell you about the funny stuff he did at Sizzler Steak House and elsewhere, but that will have to wait for a day of happier reflections. On this 25th anniversary of that terrible night I have said what I needed to say, rather than what I wanted to say.

Yes, if only life were linear, if only he turned right instead of left, if only Marty had called a “10-31” (ice cream run) instead.
God bless you who still put on the badge. Please take to heart the words of this old retired FTO and do your best to avoid the falling dominoes. You need to go home safe. Safe for your families, for your coworkers, and for the rest of us who are so sad to watch the statistics climb each year.

Officer (ret.) Steve Caros
Manhattan Beach Police #200

December 28, 2018

Want even more control of your Reflection? Create a free ODMP account now for these benefits:

  • Quick access to your heroes
  • Reflections published quicker
  • Save a Reflection signature
  • View, edit or delete any Reflection you've left in the past

Create an account for more options, or use this form to leave a Reflection now.