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Police Kill Fleeing Man; Officer Shot

July 07, 2002|HECTOR BECERRA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles police officer was shot in the wrist and a fleeing suspect was killed Saturday night on the Harbor Freeway, authorities said.

The incident began when two officers saw a man they believe was either using or dealing drugs at 79th and Figueroa streets in Southwest Los Angeles. The officers approached the suspect, who was sitting outside an abandoned building. There was a brief scuffle, with the man knocking down the officers, LAPD Deputy Chief David Gascon said. The officers suffered minor injuries.

The man jumped into the police car and drove away, prompting the officers to shoot at the fleeing car, witnesses and police said. The man was not hit at that time.

Backup officers gave chase while a police helicopter tracked the patrol car. After a short pursuit, the man stopped on the freeway near Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Officers fired beanbag rounds. The police did not believe the man was armed, said Interim Police Chief Martin Pomeroy.

Officers tried to pull him out of the police car, Pomeroy said. Then, believing the man was reaching for a weapon, at least one of the officers opened fire, killing him.

About two dozen LAPD officers converged on the scene of the shooting, which was reported at 7:36 p.m. Shortly after the shooting, several officers huddled around a wounded colleague. Nearby, the suspect's body lay across one of the traffic lanes.

The Newton Division officer was taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, where he underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to the wrist, authorities said. It was unclear whether he was shot by the suspect or by one of his fellow officers, Pomeroy said. He was in stable condition late Saturday night.

The Harbor Freeway was closed and traffic backed up for miles.

Authorities did not release the identities of the officers involved or the suspect.

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Times staff writer Anna Gorman contributed to this report.

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