A 22-year-old man was shot and killed in an affluent Los Feliz neighborhood early Saturday by a police officer who mistook a screwdriver the man brandished for a knife, police said.
Police were on Edgemont Street investigating an unrelated kidnaping about 3:30 a.m. when a woman approached and told them she had just been abducted, robbed and molested by two men who were at that moment driving from the area in a Cadillac, Sgt. Sid Nuckles said.
Two patrol cars chased the vehicle through residential streets, losing one of the man when he bolted from the car's passenger side and ran off.
The driver attempted to ram a police car, then fled on foot through the yards of several homes before he turned and confronted Officer Howard Beardsley, 39, with what Beardsley believed to be a knife, Nuckles said.
Nuckles said the man, identified later as Sahak Mkhitayrn, refused to drop the weapon and appeared ready to throw it when Beardsley fired his 9-millimeter Smith and Wesson pistol. Nuckles said Beardsley, a 12-year veteran of the force, was in "close proximity" to Mkhitayrn.
A neighbor who heard running and shouting outside his home near Hoover and Price streets said that after hearing the shot, "I heard one male voice say, 'I shot the sucker.' At that point, I called 911 because I didn't know if it was police or who was doing the shooting."
According to the neighbor, Mkhitayrn's body was left in the street for four hours while police and coroner's officials photographed and investigated the scene.
The incident was the second fatal shooting by Los Angeles police in the last week.
Other Shooting Death
On Wednesday, a shoplifting suspect was killed by a plainclothes police officer outside the Promenade Mall in Woodland Hills after he got into a shoving match with the officer and struck him with a rum bottle.
In that case, police said Officer Larry Capra, 31, shot the man three times.
In Saturday's incident, Nuckles said the woman who sought police help was not injured, and that the nature of the sexual assault was not rape. She told police that the men abducted her from a bus bench at Sunset Boulevard and Kingsley Drive, robbing her of $150.
Nuckles said the Cadillac had been stolen earlier in the morning.