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Man who stole West Covina police cruiser shot dead after police chase

Man who stole West Covina police cruiser shot dead after police chase
The California Highway Patrol's Major Accident Investigation Team inspects the scene in an alley near Glendale Boulevard and Harvard Street in Glendale, where a man suspected of taking off with a West Covina police car was killed in an officer-involved shooting. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A man who stole a West Covina police cruiser and led officers on a high-speed chase had stolen the vehicle after officers gave him a ride across the city, authorities said Monday.

The man, who was described as being 45 years old, was fatally shot at the end of the pursuit Sunday night, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Bill Cotter.

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According to investigators, the incident began uneventfully enough. The man had called police requesting some kind of assistance and after speaking with officers in person, asked for a ride to another part of West Covina.

When they stopped to drop off the man, he somehow got into the driver's seat and took off in the cruiser, authorities said.

About 10 p.m., local TV stations began broadcasting the pursuit, showing the patrol car driving near downtown L.A. He also sped through West Covina, Alhambra, Los Angeles, North Hollywood and Hollywood with emergency lights flashing.

The car later drove north into the San Fernando Valley before driving south on the 170 Freeway and hit speeds of more than 100 mph, authorities said.

About 10:40 p.m., the chase ended when police cars surrounded the stolen cruiser in Glendale and a police car rammed into the stolen patrol car.

Jeff Cibrian lives across the street from where the chase ended and said relatives were texting him about a chase through Glendale when he heard police sirens approach over the roar of helicopters.

The car came to a stop in front of his home, he said.

"I heard four gunshots – bap bap bap bap – [then] went scrambling to my TV to at least catch it on the news. I see the gentleman try to reverse, and that's when the SUV hit him," said Cibrian, 36.

The gunshots were consecutive and there wasn't any return gunfire, Cibrian said. The body remained in the car's passenger seat Monday morning, he said.

Details about what prompted police to shoot were not immediately released.

The identity of the suspect was not released. The shooting involved officers from the West Covina Police Department, Glendale Police Sgt. Robert William said.

Staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.

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