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Man Killed by Police on Freeway Is Identified

Shooting: Investigators say man who assaulted officers, stole patrol car had been using drugs.

July 09, 2002|RICHARD WINTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A 36-year-old man had been "smoking crack" when he struck a Los Angeles police officer, stole the officer's patrol car and then struggled with other police before they shot him to death, investigators said Monday.

Cecil Rudolph Menifield of Los Angeles was identified Monday by the Los Angeles County coroner's office as the man killed Saturday night by LAPD Officers Charles Wunder and Carter Fenstemacher.

Wunder and Fenstemacher opened fire after they saw the man was attempting to wrest away another patrolman's gun, said Lt. Horace Frank of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The incident began about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when two officers with the LAPD's 77th Street Division approached Menifield on 79th Street because he was "smoking crack," Frank said.

The lieutenant said that as an unidentified officer who was a passenger got out of the patrol car, Menifield ran up to him, punched him and knocked him down.

Frank said the officer and Menifield struggled for the patrolman's weapon. Officer Matthew Jacobik, who was driving the patrol car, then got out and fired his weapon at Menifield, who jumped into the empty patrol car and drove off, police said. Investigators said it is not yet clear whether Menifield was wounded in the encounter.

Jacobik and his partner notified dispatchers, and police units soon spotted the missing patrol car on the Harbor Freeway.

Menifield was stopped near Exposition Boulevard, where he got out of the patrol car but failed to comply with orders to surrender, police said.

Beanbag rounds were fired at Menifield, but he continued to resist, Frank said. The lieutenant said the officers then shot Menifield with a Taser gun, which knocked him to the ground.

But Menifield reportedly kept on struggling. When one of the officers yelled a warning, Wunder and Fenstemacher, seeing the suspect grabbing for a gun, opened fire, Frank said.

David Campbell, a spokesman for the coroner's office, said Menifield died at the scene. An autopsy has yet to be scheduled to determine the precise cause of death.

An unnamed officer was shot in the wrist during the final struggle that ended in Menifield's death. Who fired that shot was not immediately clear. The wounded officer is expected to recover.

Wunder, 37, has been with the department more than seven years. Fenstemacher, 29, and Jacobik, 36, are six-year veterans.

The shooting forced closure of the freeway in both directions for several hours, causing a backup that stretched for miles.

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