Suspect arrested in hit-and-run death of LAPD officer

The wreck left the police car's radio unusable, forcing the other officer to use his personal cellphone to seek help.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

A man driving a vehicle that crashed into a Los Angeles police cruiser, killing a veteran officer and seriously injuring another, has been arrested on suspicion of murder, officials said

Officer Roberto Sanchez, 32, was killed in a weekend collision that occurred as the officers were making a U-turn to follow a speeding vehicle. They were broadsided by an SUV about 3:55 a.m. near the intersection of Senator Avenue and Anaheim Street.

The suspect, identified as Mynor Enrique Varela, 20, was initially detained as person of interest by Los Angeles police after he fled the scene, authorities said.

He is being held without bail after being formally taken into custody on suspicion of murder.


The impact of the crash left the police cruiser so mangled that its police radio was unusable and the surviving officer had to use a personal cellphone to call for help. The evidence in the case is expected to be presented to prosecutors Wednesday.

Sanchez, was a six-year veteran assigned to the Harbor area, police said. His partner was in stable condition at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.

Sanchez was the third LAPD officer killed in vehicular incidents this year. In March, an officer was killed in a crash involving a truck in Beverly Hills. In April, an LAPD motorcycle officer died after being hit by a suspected impaired driver.

After the weekend crash, Mayor Eric Garcetti ordered flags flown at half-staff.

“Officer Sanchez died a hero, but that does not lessen the blow to his family and fellow officers,” Garcetti said. “This third loss of an officer in the line of duty in just two months is a stark and tragic reminder of the dangers our first responders face every day.”