Detective Russell Lee Kuster

Detective Russell Lee Kuster

Los Angeles Police Department, California

End of Watch Tuesday, October 9, 1990

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Russell Lee Kuster

Detective Russell Kuster was shot and killed when he attempted to stop a man who was waving a handgun in a restaurant. The suspect had gotten into an argument with the owner and left.

The man re-entered the bar with a 9 mm handgun and started waving it in the air. Detective Kuster, who was off duty and in the restaurant, was identified as a police officer by one of the restaurant employees. As Detective Kuster tried to talk the man into putting the gun down, the man opened fire, striking him in the chest and knees. Despite being mortally wounded, Detective Kuster was able to return fire and killed the suspect.

Detective Kuster had served with the Los Angeles Police Department for 24.5 years. He is survived by his wife, parents, and two brothers.


  • Age 50
  • Tour 24 years, 6 months
  • Badge 12884

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; 9 mm
  • Offender Shot and killed

off duty

Most Recent Reflection

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Russ was my partner for many years, then became my D3 Supervisor at Hwd Detectives Homicide Unit. Below is a memorial I wrote for him, which was read at his funeral. (I had been retired for four years from LAPD at the time of his murder.)

Los Angeles Police Department
Hollywood Detectives
October 10, 1990

Dear Friends:

It was with great shock and sadness that I received the news of Russ’s death this morning. As most of you know Russell Lee was a very large part of my life (both professional and personal) during my 14 years at Hollywood Homicide. As my partner and then my supervisor he, more than any other individual, influenced my career. And what a privilege influenced that was for me! Russ possessed a rare and wonderful blend of skill, professionalism and dedication. He was always there when the need arose. For friend and victim alike he was there to help. His strong firm Midwest beliefs fortified his faith in Justice and impassioned his drive and insistence that all Hollywood murders be solved

How many times do we all remember his year end admonition that, “85 % clearance rate is not good enough.” How many times do we all remember during “slow” months, Russ’s insistence on pulling out the unsolved books and finding the answers he knew were there and had been overlooked by us due to busier times?

Russell Lee Kuster was one of a kind. Like his heroes, John Wayne and General George Patton. Russ was an individual who never wavered in his personal beliefs. You always knew where he stood. This was true if you were a probationer at your first crime scene, or if you were a deputy chief at your 500th.

My heart goes out to all of you at Hollywood Detectives in these hours of grief. Cherish, as I do the fun and tragic times you had with this man. Cherish and remember the spirit of dedication he proudly exemplified. And finally, smile in remembrance that Russ in his final moments made sure that Los Angeles would not be burdened with another “whodunit” as he sent the “Son-Of-A-b!t$h” to h*!!.

Love in Brotherhood
Steve Hodel LAPD Retired

Take care "Roy"

Det.3 Steve Hodel #11394
LAPD Hollywood Homicide (ret.)

October 23, 2021

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