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LAPD Officer Dies When SUV T-Bones Cruiser in Harbor Area

It's the third death for the LAPD since March.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.

Originally posted at 9:51 a.m. May 3, 2014. Edited to add new information. 

A Los Angeles police officer was killed and his partner suffered serious injuries today in a grinding traffic collision crash with an SUV whose driver ran from the scene.

Roberto Sanchez, 32, a patrol officer in the Harbor area, died at a hospital and a second officer was hospitalized in critical condition after the crash about 3:45 a.m. at West Anaheim and Senator streets in Harbor City, Los Angeles police officials said.

The injured officer was identified in a CBS2 report as Richard Medina, a six-year veteran of the LAPD who had been assigned to the Harbor Station for the past two years.

The collision was about 14 miles south of the Civic Center, in the strip of Los Angeles leading to the harbor. It happened as the officers "were following a traffic violator," according to an LAPD statement.

Sanchez, also a six-year LAPD veteran, was previously assigned to the West Los Angeles, Newton and Harbor stations, police said.

He is survived by his wife and parents, police said.

Sanchez's injured partner and best friend suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in the crash and was hospitalized in critical condition, police Chief Charlie Beck told reporters at the scene, about five hours after the crash.

The LAPD reports that he is expected to survive.

Late in the morning, two lines of Los Angeles police officers stood at attention outside Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, as a gurney bearing the officer's body, wrapped in an American flag, was loaded into a coroner's van.

"The driver of the SUV involved in the traffic collision fled the scene. Further investigation identified a person who is believed to be associated with the incident," the statement said. "That individual has been located and detained as a person of interest and is being interrogated by detectives."

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith told The Los Angeles Times that preliminary information gathered by investigators indicated the officers were chasing a white Camaro eastbound on Anaheim Street when both made U-turns. At that point, the squad car was struck on its driver's side by an SUV that was also eastbound on Anaheim, he said.

It was unclear if the cruiser's emergency lights and siren were deployed.

The squad car was so badly damaged, the second officer had to use his personal mobile phone to call for help, according to officers at the scene.

The Camaro being chased before the crash drove off and was being sought, Beck said.

The chief said the department also is mourning the death of a veteran LAPD officer, who suffered heart problems last week and died Friday night, a shaken Beck revealed in Harbor City.

George Nagata, a 35-year member of the force, became ill while on duty last week and was hospitalized. He died of an apparent heart condition, the chief said.

"So last night, two Los Angeles police officers died," Beck said. "One in a tragic hit-and-run collision, and the other due to a heart condition."

Smith said the deaths are resonating throughout the LAPD.

"Of course, this comes on the heels of two other traffic collisions that resulted in the deaths of Los Angeles police officers, so the entire police department, of course, is having a very difficult time," Smith told KCAL9.

On April 5, motorcycle Officer Chris Cortijo, 51, was struck by an SUV while stopped at a red light at Lankershim Boulevard and Saticoy Street in Sun Valley. He died four days later.

The driver was charged with driving under the influence of cocaine.

On March 7, 40-year-old LAPD patrol Officer Nicholas Lee was killed when his patrol car was crushed by a large truck that may have lost its brakes on a steep hill in Beverly Hills.

--City News Service


abe lincoln May 04, 2014 at 03:56 AM
prayers to his family

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