Police Officer Matthew Michael Pavelka

Police Officer Matthew Michael Pavelka

Burbank Police Department, California

End of Watch Saturday, November 15, 2003

Matthew Michael Pavelka

Officer Matthew Pavelka was shot and killed while backing up another officer investigating a suspicious vehicle at 1845 hours.

The driver of the vehicle was unable to produce a driver's license or vehicle registration before both occupants exited the car, each with two handguns, and opened fire on the officers. The suspects fired over 30 rounds from the handguns, striking both officers.

Although critically wounded, both officers were able to return fire and killed one of the suspects. The second suspect escaped, but was captured two weeks later in Tijuana, Mexico. Several semi-automatic rifles and methamphetamine were also found in the vehicle during the ensuing investigation.

The suspect was captured and on July 24, 2012 was finally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His two brothers were previously arrested and charged with aiding in his escape. Both brothers were found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Officer Pavelka had only served with the Burbank Police Department for 10 months, and had previously served as a United States Air Force Security Police officer for four years.


  • Age 26
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge 84
  • Military Veteran

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun
  • Offender One killed; One sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

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Posted in “The Burbank Leader
November 16, 2017

Burbank police honor slain officer

Burbank Police Officer Matthew Pavelka had only been on the job for less than a year when he was shot and killed during a routine stop in 2003.

Wednesday was the 14-year anniversary of his slaying and the Burbank Police Department marked the occasion with a special memorial ceremony in front of the station. With members of Pavelka’s family in attendance as well as two dozen police officers and city officials, two memorial wreaths were placed in front of the Guardians statue outside the station.

Pavelka and his partner, Officer Gregory Campbell, were in the middle of a routine traffic stop outside of the Burbank Ramada Inn when the occupants of the car fired upon the two.

Campbell was wounded while the 26-year-old Pavelka died in the exchange of gunfire.

Until that day, Burbank had not lost an officer in a shooting since 1920.

The second wreath placed in front of the statue was in honor of Deputy City Marshal Luther Colson, who was killed in the line of duty in 1914.

Police Officer - Retired

November 16, 2017

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