LAPD Chief Beck: Suspect in officer's fatal crash was trying to help fleeing friend

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The suspected driver who slammed into a Los Angeles police car Saturday, killing one officer, is alleged to have intentionally caused the crash in order to help a friend being followed by the police, according to authorities.

L.A. District Attorney Jackie Lacey and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck announced the charges and allegations against Mynor Enrique Varela, 20, at a Thursday morning news conference.

"He intentionally committed homicide," said Beck.

RELATED: LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez killed in Harbor City area hit-and-run; another hospitalized

On Saturday around 4 a.m., an SUV broadsided an LAPD patrol car while it followed a white Chevy Camaro in Harbor City. The crash killed officer Roberto Sanchez and sent his injured partner to the hospital with a broken jaw. The SUV driver fled the scene.

He was arrested later that evening but released a couple days later before being rearrested and booked on murder charges. Varela was charged Tuesday with murder, vehicular manslaughter, assault on two police officers and leaving the scene of an accident. He is being held without bail.

"He did this in order to aid a friend who was driving a Camaro the police vehicle was following," Beck said.

Lacey said forensic evidence and video obtained from the patrol car involved in the crash helped solve the case. Investigators also got help from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

L.A. police say the brother of the driver, Bryan Varela, 19, was a passenger in the SUV and also fled the scene of the crash. He is in custody.

Neither Beck nor Lacey took questions from reporters at the news conference. It's unknown what happened to the driver of the Camaro being followed by the police car.

Thursday, the LAPD will hold a ceremony unveiling city street signs featuring the names of 207 LAPD officers who have died in the line duty.

A large black marble memorial wall also sits in the front plaza of the police headquarters Thursday morning honoring fallen police officers from the past 146 years.

"My sincerest sympathy goes out to officer Sanchez's family," Beck said. "Officer Sanchez died a hero."

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