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Truck driver charged with killing LAPD officer in Beverly Hills crash

Truck driver charged with killing LAPD officer in Beverly Hills crash
LAPD Officer Leila Ryan, who was a police academy classmate of Officer Nicholas Lee's, pays her respects during a graveside service in March 2014. Nearly a year later, CHP investigators arrested truck driver Roberto Maldonado on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter in Lee's death. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A truck driver has been charged in the death of a Los Angeles police officer who was killed when the truck's brakes failed and it slammed into the officer's squad car.

Roberto Maldonado, 46, of Pacoima faces one count of gross vehicular manslaughter in connection with Officer Nicholas Lee's death, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Maldonado's arraignment is set for March 20.

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Maldonado was arrested Friday after the nearly year-long investigation into the Beverly Hills crash. He was released the following day after posting bail. If Maldonado is convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck called the collision a "terrible tragedy."

"We hope this arrest can bring some small piece of closure to the family," he said in a statement. "Officer Nick Lee was a great cop and a great man. The LAPD is forever grateful for the 16 years he spent protecting our great city.  We will never forget him or his  sacrifice."

Lee, 40, and his partner were heading to a call about 8 a.m. March 7, 2014, when Maldonado's dump truck lost control and collided with their police cruiser at Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane in Beverly Hills, authorities said. Lee died at the scene.

A California Highway Patrol investigation revealed Maldonado had failed to properly maintain the brakes and inspect the truck, which is a requirement, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. Jack Garden.

Lee is survived by his wife and two daughters.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA

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