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Driver who killed LAPD officer in crash sentenced to life in prison

Driver who killed LAPD officer in crash sentenced to life in prison
Mynor Enrique Varela was sentenced to life in prison in connection with a May 2014 hit-and-run crash that killed LAPD Officer Robert Sanchez. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

A 25-year-old Harbor City man who was convicted of second-degree murder and other charges in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed a Los Angeles police officer has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Los Angeles district attorney’s office said Thursday.

Mynor Enrique Varela was following two LAPD officers as they pursued a Camaro that was speeding along Anaheim Street near San Pedro in the early morning hours of May 3, 2014. During the pursuit, Varela slammed his SUV into the patrol car, driven by Officer Roberto Sanchez, authorities said.

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The crash killed Sanchez, 32, a six-year veteran of the department, and seriously injured his partner, Officer Richard Medina. Varela fled the scene with his brother, who was a passenger in the SUV, but officers detained him nearby.

Using surveillance video from businesses near the crash and video from an LAPD camera that was mounted in the patrol car, investigators determined that Varela was intentionally following the police cruiser in order to help his friend, who was driving the Camaro.

When the driver of the Camaro pulled a sudden U-turn during the pursuit, Sanchez tried to do the same and was broadsided by Varela, police said.

The impact was violent enough to crush the driver’s side of the police car. Rescuers had to cut the car open to free Sanchez, who was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. His partner suffered a broken jaw.

Varela pleaded not guilty, but he ultimately was found guilty of one count of murder, one count of vehicular manslaughter, one count of leaving the scene of an accident and other charges, the district attorney’s office said.

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