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Retired Sergeant Ira G. Essoe 1940-2010
Ira Gabor Essoe, Jr. was born in Hungary on November 7, 1940. He moved with his family to the United States when he was eight years old. He attended the University of California Los Angeles and attained both a Bachelor of Science and Master’s Degree in Management.
Following a very successful career in systems analysis and programming, Ira joined the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 1972. His first assignment was working in the Men’s Jail. Two years later he promoted to the rank of Deputy II and transferred to patrol.
During his career with the Sheriff’s Department he worked in nearly every division. His expertise in the field of computers and analysis were used throughout his career. He received commendations from then Governor Reagan and Sheriff Musick for saving the life of a swimmer while off duty.
In 1978, Ira was promoted to the rank of Investigator and was assigned to Personnel and eventually the Warrant Detail.
On November 6, 1980, while working his shift in the Warrant Detail, Investigator Essoe and his partner drove to the Mall of Orange to collect bail on a warrant. As they looked for a place to park their unmarked car, the investigators saw three men attempting to steal a car. The three men all were parolees. Investigator Essoe was fired upon as he attempted to make contact with the men. The shot paralyzed Ira from the chest down.
Following the shooting, Sheriff Brad Gates promoted Ira to the rank of Sergeant. Even after his life-threatening injuries Sergeant Essoe continued to give back to the Department.
Essoe’s shooting prompted Sheriff Gates to establish what has become “Project 999,” which helps wounded officers and the widows and orphans of peace officers killed in the line of duty.
Ira Essoe remained paralyzed and struggled to survive through 100’s of possibly life-threatening medical problems, all directly linked to the shooting. On February 4, 2010, Retired Sergeant Ira Gabor Essoe succumbed to his injuries. The coroner ruled his death a homicide: “Delayed complications from remote gunshot wounds.”
The shooters were sentenced to no more than seventeen years in prison and were paroled after four years. Ira Essoe’s sentence was twenty-nine years and three months. There was no parole.
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