It had all the ingredients for a classic, made-for-Los-Angeles police chase: a convertible with its top down performing doughnuts on Sunset Boulevard, people cheering from the sidewalk, a leisurely cruise past the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a close call with a TMZ tour bus.
Naturally, the rainy-day chase ended on a narrow residential street with two suspects sharing hugs and handshakes with a growing crowd — and lots of selfies. The wild pursuit ended with the two men surrendering to Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies without incident.
The driver was identified as Herschel Reynolds, 20, and his passenger was Isaiah Young, 19, sheriff's Deputy Tina Schrader said. Both men are residents of L.A. and were later booked in County Jail.
The chase lasted about two hours and began with a report of a residential burglary in Cerritos at 1:24 p.m., after a rainstorm moved into Southern California. The burglars fled the home on Charlwood Street before deputies arrived, but neighbors were able to describe the suspects’ vehicle, a Ford Mustang convertible. Within minutes, a sheriff’s helicopter spotted the car on the westbound 91 Freeway.
Authorities said roads were too wet and the Mustang was weaving through traffic too dangerously for sheriff’s deputies to follow it, so they relied on a helicopter to monitor the vehicle instead.
But when the Mustang reached the interchange of the 110 and 101 freeways in downtown L.A., the California Highway Patrol took up the chase. The Mustang got off at Sunset Boulevard. By that time it had already rear-ended one vehicle, and the passenger had stood up and waved at other drivers.
On Sunset, with no police behind them, the driver began doing doughnuts in the middle of the street, spinning across all lanes of traffic and forcing other cars to stop. The car then moved onto Hollywood Boulevard, where countless tourists got to see the Mustang drive against traffic by the TCL Chinese Theatre and Hollywood Walk of Fame.
From there, it was up to the Hollywood Hills, where the Mustang drove into opposite lanes around blind curves, narrowly missing oncoming traffic, and fishtailed on rain-slick roads.
Without any vehicles close behind, the driver drove back through Hollywood’s tourist district and onto the freeway, where it was almost trapped by a TMZ tour bus that cut off its path as it tried to split two lanes.
TMZ addressed the run-in with the pursuit suspects on its website.
“We've spoken to the driver ... who says he never even saw the chase coming behind him. He was innocently changing lanes and ended up cutting off the suspects,” TMZ said.
The Mustang sped onto Figueroa Street near USC, where LAPD officers twice tried to deploy spike strips to no avail. Somewhere along the way, however, the car’s front right tire was thrashed. The car was driving on its rim by the time it reached 51st Street and Central Avenue at 3:30 p.m., where the driver and passenger were met by a throng of bystanders. No police officers were in sight.
After hugging and high-fiving bystanders and taking selfies, the men crossed their hands behind their backs and approached sheriff’s deputies, who had just arrived to take them into custody.
Young, the passenger, was being held in lieu of $80,000 bail, while Reynolds, the driver, was held on $50,000 bail, according to jail records. As of late Thursday, no court date had been set for their arraignment.
“I have been involved in a lot of pursuits but I haven’t seen anything quite like that,” said Dennis Zine, a former city councilman with a combined 47 years of service with the LAPD as an officer and reserve. “The high-fives at the end were ridiculous.”
LAPD Capt. Andy Neiman said the long delay between the men stopping and their arrest was deliberate. The men were in LAPD territory but were being chased for a crime outside the department’s jurisdiction, he said.
“It was a nonviolent property crime…. In terms of priority, you need to weigh all the circumstances,” Neiman said. “The two suspects didn’t appear to be trying to hide anywhere, almost sitting and waiting. You could see them take property out of their pockets and hand it to people like they knew they were going to be arrested. It was sort of surreal to watch.”
Times staff writer Matt Hamilton contributed to this report.