Crime & Justice

LAPD officers shoot, kill suspect following early morning chase, collision

Police say an officer opened fire on a car-theft suspect who collided with their patrol car in the early morning Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Police say an officer opened fire on a car-theft suspect who collided with their patrol car in the early morning Thursday, March 5, 2015.
Courtesy NBC4

Los Angeles police shot and killed a suspect, a man in his 20s, after a long pursuit that started around 1:45 a.m. and ended with the suspect's vehicle and the officers' car colliding, LAPD Officer Jack Richter tells KPCC. The vehicle was stolen.

"They saw a vehicle with paper plates, and it was driving erratically," Richter said. "The officers, they began to follow the vehicle, and the suspect then took off at a high rate of speed."

The pursuit started in North Hollywood and ended in Burbank. It lasted six minutes, which is significantly longer than a usual pursuit, Richter said. It ended in a culdesac, where the vehicles collided.

"The passenger officer fired his weapon at the suspect, and the suspect exited the vehicle. He ran a short distance, and he ended up in an alley west of Pass Avenue," Richter said.

The suspect collapsed in the alley and was taken into custody, Richter said. The suspect received medical attention, but was pronounced dead at the scene. His name has not been released.

Richter said he didn't know whether the suspect was armed.

"Now, I understand that early reports were that the suspect had rammed the police officer's vehicle with his vehicle, and that later, after an investigation we determined that was not true," Officer Barry Montgomery told KPCC.

"As a police officer, having another vehicle hit you, particularly one that's at that point a suspect, can be very intense and can be a situation which can obviously escalate into something else, which this one did," Richter said.

Paper plates can be a flag for officers, Richter said.

"Quite often, we see a vehicle with paper plates — from our training experience, we see that quite often with vehicles that are used in a crime, so that can be one flag right there that would get our attention, and if that vehicle is driving erratically, then we're going to investigate, we're going to try and find out what's going on."

The two officers received minor injuries. They were treated at the scene.

The stolen car was a 2003 gold Mercury Sable. Officers didn't initially know it was stolen due to the paper plates.

"Unfortunately, an individual did die from the result of the pursuit. And, you know what, we're going to be looking at it as we always do, and hopefully the department can move forward and try to figure out not only what we did [but] what we could do better," Richter said.

This marks the second fatal L.A. police officer-involved shooting in a week. LAPD also shot and killed a man Sunday on Skid Row — they say he grabbed an officer's gun from its holster.

This story has been updated.