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Police Shoot Van Nuys Man to Death After Freeway Chase

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A man who mumbled that he wanted to “end it right here” was shot to death by police Tuesday as he advanced on officers with a knife following a half-hour chase through the northwestern San Fernando Valley in which he drove the wrong way on the Simi Valley Freeway, authorities said.

The 34-year-old Van Nuys man, whose name was not made public pending notification of relatives, got out of his car at Sherman Way and Milwood Avenue and came at three officers who had pursued him, Police Lt. William Hall said. He was holding a knife and a beer bottle, Hall said, and ignored orders to halt and drop the knife.

“The man was advancing on the officers, and not only did the officers realize that he was not going to drop the knife, but they believed he was intending to use it on them,” Hall said.

Each of the officers fired one shot, one of which struck the man in the abdomen, killing him. He was pronounced dead at West Hills Regional Medical Center.

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Hall said the officers involved will probably be reassigned desk jobs for a few days pending a complete investigation. However, he said, the shooting apparently was justified.

“There is no reason to be overly concerned that they did anything wrong,” Hall said.

The three officers involved are Michael Rossello, 33, and Robert Ginther, 28, both with four years on the department, and Kathy Ryan, 37, who has seven years service. Rossello is believed to have fired the fatal shot, Hall said.

According to Hall, the chase began about 12:30 a.m. when Sgt. William Thomas, 50, sighted a vehicle with lights off driving out of the parking lot of a closed restaurant in Granada Hills at Reseda Boulevard and Devonshire Street. Thomas called for a backup unit and began following the vehicle.

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The driver headed west on the Simi Valley Freeway, apparently entering at Reseda Boulevard, although Hall said he had not verified that. After a short distance, the man made a U-turn and began driving east in the westbound lanes.

The man got off on Topanga Canyon Boulevard, heading south in the northbound lanes. At Sherman Way, he turned and stopped at Vassar Avenue. He got out of his car and began approaching the officers, who ordered him to drop a knife and quart-size bottle of beer.

Hall said the man was mumbling, and officers believed the man said, “Yeah, I’m going to end it right here.”

The man got back into his car and sped east on Sherman Way about one mile to Milwood Avenue, where he confronted the officers and was killed.

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Police said they found two full quart bottles of beer and white powder believed to be cocaine in the man’s car.


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