LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday addressed concerns that officers in Venice were driving with their lights off last month when they smashed into another car, killing a 25-year-old woman.
On blogs and in vigils, friends and relatives of Devin Petelski accuse LAPD officers of engaging in something they call "silent running" – or driving without headlights at night - when they hit Petelski as she pulled her car onto Venice Boulevard.
“I’ve been a cop for 32 years. I don’t know what they’re talking about," said Beck in an interview with KPCC. "This is something that’s pulled off an Internet site that is not a policy of the Los Angeles Police Department.”
Beck says that in rare cases, cops turn out their headlights as they approach a crime in progress.
A friend of Petelski’s says witnesses saw the cop car’s headlights off moments before the crash.
Beck said the headlights were smashed in the crash. But he said a preliminary report that examined the lights' heat following the crash indicates that officers had their lights on. He said the report also found they were traveling at a safe speed.
“People have to understand that we cannot fix this tragedy," said Beck. "This is an awful thing that has happened to a young woman and the two police officers that were involved in the accident.”
Beck says a department investigation into the incident continues.