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LAPD commander under investigation after his police vehicle is found damaged and abandoned

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating a top commander whose unmarked police car was involved in a collision Thursday night and found abandoned in Carson, officials said Friday.

Three sources familiar with the investigation identified him as Cmdr. Jeff Nolte, who oversees a team that investigates officer-involved shootings. Los Angeles police officials did not identify the commander but said he been assigned to home and was the subject of an investigation. Nolte could not be reached for comment.

An unmarked Los Angeles police car was discovered Friday morning in Carson, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida. Carson station deputies received two calls early Friday morning about an abandoned vehicle near Avalon Boulevard and 213th Street. Deputies found it and “LAPD has the investigation,” Nishida said.

The unmarked vehicle has collision damage and a missing wheel, a source familiar with the investigation said.

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LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein, in a statement, said the department has “initiated an investigation regarding a traffic collision that occurred Thursday, January 24th involving one of our Command Staff officers.

“The department employee was not injured in the crash and we don’t believe anyone else was involved in the incident. We are currently working with the California Highway Patrol to determine the nature of the crash. The employee has been assigned home pending the outcome of the investigation.”

Rubenstein could not provide a time or location for the collision. It was unclear whether the collision occurred at Avalon and 213th Street.

Simeon Yarbrough, a California Highway Patrol spokesman for the area, said the car had been in a crash near the 110 and 405 freeways and that the LAPD informed his office it would handle the matter.

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The investigation is latest incident involving a high-ranking LAPD officer. Assistant Chief Jorge Villegas was the subject of an internal affairs investigation after sources said undercover officers witnessed him and a female subordinate in what appeared to be sexual activity inside his department-issued car outside a bar. Villegas announced his retirement in October and has declined to comment.

Last month, an LAPD disciplinary board moved to fire Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer after she was charged with public intoxication following an altercation with Glendale police in April. Mehringer and a subordinate, Sgt. James Kelly, were arrested after the unmarked LAPD vehicle they were in was found resting against another vehicle at 1 a.m. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, LAPD Officer Daniel Reedy is under investigation by police and prosecutors after he was accused by a fellow officer, Det. Ysabel Villegas, of assault and distributing explicit images of her without her permission.

Earlier this month, Villegas, who has acknowledged having an extramarital affair with Reedy, was granted an extension of a restraining order against him. Villegas is married to Jorge Villegas, the former assistant chief.

Reedy is on administrative leave and could not be reached for comment.

Times staff writers Joel Rubin, Maya Lau and Nicole Santa Cruz contributed to this article.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Twitter: @lacrimes

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