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Arts and Entertainment

Southern California's Biggest Jerks And Heroes Of 2015

You must use your drone powers for good, not evil. (Photo by Mila Supinskaya via Shutterstock)
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Southern California is full of many divergent personalities, and over the past year we've seen plenty of them whom we'd consider heroes or semi-villains. We've divided those people into two categories: "some heroes" and "some jerks."

We consider "some jerks" as people who commit acts of minor to medium malice, and imagine "some jerk" as a singular person of folklore status—like a Hamburglar or a Krampus—traipsing through Los Angeles causing disdain and despair. As for "some heroes," we're used to firefighters and first responders playing the role of hero, but sometimes, a hero can be an ordinary Angeleno who commits a remarkable deed. Sometimes, a hero can even be a cat. Here are our picks for the memorable jerks and heroes of this year.

Some Jerks Of 2015

'Star Wars' Ruiners: There's nothing like waiting for years for a movie you're really excited about and then having some jerk pull the fire alarm 20 minutes into the flick. That's what happened on opening night of The Force Awakens at The Grove. Must have been Some Sith. Throw into this category everyone that spoiled movies and TV on Facebook before their friends had a chance to watch them.

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The Water Wasters: There was no greater public shaming in Southern California this year than drought shaming. We learned that some people think they don't need to conserve water, especially if they are rich. Gay Butler, who owns a very nice home in a suburb of San Diego, lamented to the Washington Post: "What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?" Meanwhile, Some Jerk in Bel-Air used nearly 12 million gallons of water in a single year.

Rogue Drone Hobbyists: Another trend in SoCal jerkiness was flying drones at inappropriate times, including while firefighters were working to battle raging wildfires. We had quite a few of those, including one epic blaze that torched cars on the 15 Freeway when the flames jumped the Cajon Pass. Firefighting efforts were hindered by drone hobbyists who flew their toys near the fires, which meant rescuers had to ground their aircraft. Another jerk almost crashed his drone into a medical helicopter transporting a patient. Another jerk took out the power in West Hollywood with their drone. We did have some amazing drone videos, but please, drone responsibly.


A 'tip' left for a server at a Thai restaurant in Redondo Beach (via Twitter)
Racist Jerks: One of the most detestable types of jerks! They started out strong with year, littering driveways with KKK propaganda just in time for Martin Luther King Day, then followed it up by leaving a racist note instead of a tip at a Thai restaurant in Redondo Beach.

Stealing From Children: Some Jerk wrestled a bicycle away from a little boy who had just won the bike in a raffle at a Halloween party at a park in Watts. The bike was eventually returned by the mother of the thief. Some jerk stole the special wheelchair of a 4-year-old girl who was born without legs from her family's apartment complex. Some Hero replaced the chair by donating money for a new one, and the thief must have felt terrible because he or she later returned the chair. Sometimes a jerk can be redeemed.

Cruelty To Marine Life: Some Jerk drew the ire of many Angelenos when a brown pelican from Redondo Beach was found shot. The pelican was taken in by International Bird Rescue center for recovery. Some Jerk's crimes against animals would not cease. Later, some jerk kidnapped a baby sea lion from Dockweiler Beach.

Aggressive-Aggressive Neighbors: A West L.A. resident was driven to extreme Jerk behavior by a barking dog. A letter left on a Sawtelle resident's door swept right past passive-aggressive and went for something a little more like The Purge. "If you fail to shut your dogs up, there will be no second letter. Instead, we will just be taking matters into our own hands. And when I say "we," I am referring to the other neighbors of mine who currently hate your f*cking guts."

Teenage Jerks: Jerks can come in every age group, but the most vicious are often high schoolers. A Huntington Beach High School jerk was arrested for punching a visually-impaired student. Luckily, some teen hero was there to push the attacker away. Meanwhile, an L.A. Salesian high school football player was caught on video smearing IcyHot into the face and eyes of a rival La Cañada player.

Nutella Jerks: Derrick Gharabighi, 24, caught our eye when he punched a 78-year-old man in the face at a Burbank Costco when the older man had the audacity to suggest he just take one Nutella waffle sample. Court records indicate he was sentenced to 2 years in jail.

Drag Racing Jerks: A couple of rich jerks decided to race expensive sports cars through the streets of Beverly Hills with no concern for others. They turned out to be Qatari royalty and apparently left the country.

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Eight lives remaining (Photo via Facebook)
Some Heroes Of 2015

De Ja Brewer:
De Ja Brewer, a 14-year-old girl, suffered two gunshot wounds when she shielded her infant nephew from gunfire as they sat in an SUV in a driveway of a relative's home in South L.A. One bullet struck her in the arm and another went through her back, narrowly missing her lung, but the baby was unharmed.

Sheba the Camel:
A beloved camel named Sheba was killed by a distracted driver on his cell phone in Agua Dulce. The camel's owners said that Sheba seemed to have maneuvered to shield the family from the driver, making this camel a hero in our books.

Robert Wright:
A Fresno man saved not only his children from a burning building, but he also went back in for a rack of ribs. "I got my kids, and I thought about my ribs," he said. "I didn't want my ribs to burn and stuff because I take pride in what I do, man." Fire officials do not believe you should go back for your ribs, however.

L.A. County Lifeguards: Our lifeguards had some busy weekends this year. In one weekend in September, lifeguards rescued a total of 5,000 swimmers from dangerous rip currents.

The Pasadena Piper:
Pasadena's mysterious jazz piper spreads joy and cheer to all he encounters. Spotted rocking out on a recorder to ZZ Top and other classic rock hits while stopped in traffic, we salute this guy.

Animal Rescuers:
A woman rescued a tiny, white kitten after a predatory, yet clumsy hawk dropped it from the sky. Firefightersalso rescued a dog from the raging L.A. River after a storm and pregnant cows after a freeway crash.

Paul Aron: Paul Aron, who has been living in the same Santa Monica apartment since 1991, won a huge victory in the face of skyrocketing rent. Aron complained about his landlord's excessive attempts to irritate him out of the building and evict him for actually improving his dwelling. The City of Santa Monica decided to sue his landlord for tenant harassment. Here's one for the little guy.


Jesse Hernandez (Photo via the LASD)
Jesse Hernandez:
An aspiring Sheriff's deputy saved 42 people from a burning bus while on his way to work at the North County Correctional Facility. He spotted a charter bus stopped across two lanes, pulled over, jumped out of his car and discovered the passengers and driver were all trapped inside the smoke-filled bus. He forced the door open and helped all 41 passengers and the drivers escape to safety.

Dr. Angelica Zen: A UCLA resident physician was aboard a China Airlines flight in October, headed back from her honeymoon, when a woman on the plane went into labor. Dr. Angelica Zen successfully helped the woman, who was only 32 weeks along, deliver the baby 30 minutes before the plane landed in Anchorage, where the flight once headed for LAX had been diverted due to the situation.