Fleeing motorist shot in car by LAPD apparently unarmed, police say

LAPD officer fatally shoots fleeing motorist after his car collides with police vehicle

Investigators pored over a neighborhood in Burbank where a vehicle pursuit hours earlier concluded with a Los Angeles police officer fatally shooting a man early Thursday morning.

LAPD Sgt. Barry Montgomery said, "There is no evidence to support he was armed."

The man was shot by an officer sitting in the passenger seat of a squad car when their two cars collided during the chase. Wounded, the man got out of the car and ran but officers chased him down and handcuffed him, said Officer Wendy Reyes.

He was declared dead at the scene after arriving paramedics tried to resuscitate him.

The chase began when the man sped away from LAPD officers who tried to pull him over at Magnolia Boulevard and Riverton Avenue in North Hollywood about 1:45 a.m., said Officer Liliana Preciado. Officers started following the car because it had paper plates and the suspect was “driving erratically,” she said.

Officers gave chase and followed him into Burbank, where the man drove into a short cul-de-sac off West National Avenue and Evergreen Street and was cornered. The man’s car collided with the passenger side of the LAPD car and the officer in the passenger seat started shooting, Preciado said.

“All I heard was sirens and gunshots,” said John Zunino, a resident who was woken up Thursday by the commotion and police helicopter. “I kept hearing them get louder and louder…then I hear pop-pop-pop-pop like five or six gunshots.”

Police initially said it appeared the man had deliberately rammed the vehicle. Further investigation showed "he was not ramming the vehicle, it was a straight collision," Preciado said.

Police said they they do not yet know if the man had any weapons.

Montgomery said the pursuit lasted about 6 minutes before it ended in the cul-de-sac. He said experts would analyze skid marks and look for any kind of surveillance video to determine exactly what happened.

The officers involved in the pursuit had minor injuries, Montgomery said.

The car the unidentified suspect was driving, a gold Mercury Sable, had been reported stolen on Feb. 26 from a northeast L.A. neighborhood, the police sergeant said.

Burbank resident David Lamb walked his bike from his second-story apartment Thursday morning, ducking under the yellow police tape that lined Pass Avenue after the early morning violence.

A black screen blocked his view of a white sheet covering the driver's body.

Lamb said the early morning gunshots jolted him and his wife awake. Both rushed to check on their three children -- 6 months, and 2 and 4 years old.

"We heard a lot of sirens and helicopters," Lamb, 32, said. "From our window we could see the scene and we saw the body on the ground."

Paramedics came shortly after, he said, and spent about 20 minutes trying to revive the suspect.

"It's shocking that this happened in this neighborhood," he said.

Diana Cruz heard the whooping police sirens before dawn and watched as white lights flashed throughout the neighborhood and into her home. Then she heard the gunshots.

"I thought I heard about four," Cruz said as she walked her dog one street away from the scene of the shooting.

But she rolled over in bed and went back to sleep, convinced that that shots were either fake or came from far away.

"We live so close to Universal Studios and a couple of times they've put up signs saying that we'll hear shots," Cruz explained.

Jennifer Mendoza, 25, said that her boyfriend was awake at the time and rushed into the room to see if she had heard the gunfire.

"He said, 'I think I heard gunshots. What if they're in the alley?'" Mendoza recalled.

Falling in and out of sleep as he tried to tell her what he'd just heard, Mendoza found it hard to believe that there would be a shooting in the neighborhood.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

9:26 a.m.: This post has been updated with additional information.

10:36 a.m.: This post has been updated with comments from residents.

11:01 a.m.: This post has been updated with LAPD official comment.

This article was originally posted at 6:32 a.m.

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