Artists working on mural honoring fallen police officers; question answered over timing

Michael Angelo Hernandez works on a mural honoring a pair of Palm Springs Police Department officers on a downtown building Wednesday afternoon.

A mural being painted to honor a pair of Palm Springs Police Department officers who lost their lives five years ago is slowly taking shape in downtown Palm Springs.

Artists began working on the mural earlier this month. It is scheduled for completion by the fifth anniversary of the deaths of officers Jose “Gil” Vega and Lesley Zerebny in October. It features images of both officers against the backdrop of the El Mirador Tower at Desert Regional Medical Center.

Vega and Zerebny were killed in a shootout on October 8, 2016, after responding to a domestic violence call in the 2700 block of Cypress Avenue. John Hernandez Felix was convicted of murdering the officers in May 2019.

Vega was killed just months before he was set to retire after nearly 30 years of service. Zerebny had been with the Police Department for 18 months and had just returned to duty following maternity leave.

The mural, on the south side of the Town and Country Center on North Palm Canyon Drive, was commissioned by the Palm Springs Police Officers’ Association. The building is owned by Wessman Holdings, which has a substantial portfolio of city properties.

Questions about the timing of the project were raised on social media earlier this week by a member of the city’s Public Arts Commission, who noted an application to begin the mural had not gone through proper permitting before work began.

City staff explained Wednesday that the applicants were not aware that the project needed approval if it was being installed on private property. That approval should come before the Palm Springs City Council on September 30.


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