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3 Men Arrested in Theft of Car From Clipper Benoit Benjamin

May 11, 1990|ERIC MALNIC | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Three young men were arrested while allegedly stripping a $75,000 sedan stolen at gunpoint several hours earlier from Los Angeles Clippers basketball star Benoit Benjamin, Los Angeles police reported Thursday.

Benjamin, who is 7 feet tall and weighs about 250 pounds, did not resist when a gunman--described as about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing about 135 pounds--confronted him at about 7:45 p.m. Wednesday in front of a friend's home in the 1100 block of West 90th Street. The gunman demanded the keys to Benjamin's Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL, the officers said.

Investigators said the gunman fired a single shot in the air as a warning to the Clipper center before grabbing the keys and driving off with the car.

Benjamin, 26, who was not injured in the incident, immediately notified police of the robbery.

About four hours later, a woman living in an apartment in the 700 block of West Colden Avenue--about eight blocks from where the car was stolen--was told by her son that some men were stripping a Mercedes-Benz in the alley behind her home. The woman, who had seen a report of the Benjamin robbery on television, called police.

Officer Robert Woodhead said he and his partner, Mike Coyne, arrived moments later to see four young men running from the car, which was missing its radio and wheels.

The officers called for backup units and a police surveillance helicopter. Three of the suspects were arrested in the area, but a fourth escaped.

Mboya Daniels, 19, the purported gunman, was booked at the Los Angeles Police Department's Southeast Division station on suspicion of armed robbery and grand theft auto, police said. Steve Latha, 19, and Joe Mauldin, 24, were booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property.

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