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Officer Kills Suspected Car Thief

It is the LAPD's fifth officer-related shooting and second gunshot fatality in three days.

November 18, 2002|Daniel Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles police officer on Sunday afternoon fatally shot an unarmed suspected car thief, the fifth officer-involved shooting and second gunshot fatality in a string of unrelated incidents since Friday night.

Police said a two-officer patrol unit followed a stolen car just after 1 p.m. for a few blocks to West 59th Place at Wall Street in South-Central Los Angeles.

The car, a 2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse, had been reported stolen from Lancaster on Sunday morning. It stopped in mid-block and began backing up toward the officers' car, police said.

The officer driving the patrol car got out of his vehicle and ordered the driver of the stolen car to stop. The officer, "fearing for his life, fired one round at the suspect," said Sgt. John Pasquariello, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.

The shot apparently penetrated the rear window of the car and hit the driver, Pasquariello said. Paramedics pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

Before the shooting, a passenger in the stolen car had jumped out and had been caught after a brief foot pursuit, police said. He was arrested on suspicion of grand theft auto, police said. No weapons were found on the suspects or inside the stolen car, police said.

The officers, whose names were withheld, were not involved in any of the four other officer-involved shootings since Friday, Pasquariello said.

The five shootings have left two dead from gunfire and two juveniles dead after a car fleeing from police slammed into a tree. No officers were injured in the incidents.

About 7 p.m. Friday, police shot and killed a man in a Wilmington cul-de-sac after he allegedly rammed his pickup truck into a police car several times.

Two hours later, two Wilshire Division officers shot a man running away from a carport where another man had been shot. Both men were seriously wounded.

At 1 a.m. Saturday, police shot at a white Lexus driven by suspected car thieves near Central Avenue at 53rd Street. Police said the driver of the Lexus allegedly tried to run over an officer, missed and crashed at a nearby intersection. Two underage passengers, who had been hit in the knee and hand by police gunfire, died in the crash.

The other incident happened at 4 a.m. Saturday near Broadway and 108th Street when officers who witnessed a shooting were fired at as they tried to intervene. The officers returned gunfire, but no one was hit.

Police are investigating all of the shootings.

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