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News Release

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Media Relations

Kidnap Suspect Kills Taxi Driver While Evading Police

Los Angeles: A man suspected of attempted kidnapping led officers on a two-minute pursuit, which ended when the suspect collided with a taxi at the intersection of Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard in the City of West Hollywood. The taxi driver died from his injuries.

The incident began around 3:45 AM on February 23, 2006, when a woman called police to report a man was following her near Melrose Avenue and Alta Vista Street. The woman was crying and said she did not know the man. She described the man as Black, driving a white pick up truck. At one point, the suspect got out of his truck and tried to grab the woman.

The woman flagged down officers in the area and pointed to the suspect, who was driving away. The officers, assigned to Hollywood Police Station, tried to detain the pick up, but the driver refused to stop. The short pursuit ended as the suspect drove northbound on Fairfax Avenue, toward Santa Monica Boulevard, and crashed into the yellow cab in the intersection. Officers said the suspect entered the intersection against the red light.

Firefighters cut the cab driver out of the taxi, but he was later pronounced dead at a local hospital. He was identified as Asatur Tokatlyan, 42, who lived in Hollywood with his wife and two children.

The pick up driver, Jeremy Peterson, 29, was arrested at the scene and taken to a local hospital with minor to moderate injuries. Blood tests will determine if Peterson was driving under the influence of any substances. Detectives will charge him with the murder of Mr. Tokatlyan and the attempted kidnap of the 30-year-old woman. Peterson’s last known address was Inglewood.

Investigators from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station and LAPD’s West Traffic Division will reconstruct the collision, using measurements and photographs taken from the intersection’s photo-red-light system.

At the time of this pursuit, officers from the Hollenbeck Police Station were pursuing unrelated assault suspects on a long chase that ended in Bakersfield. During that pursuit, the suspects threw guns from their car as well as PCP, which came in contact with officers. The suspects were arrested and the officers were treated for PCP exposure.

In 2003, LAPD revised its pursuit policy to restrict officers from pursuing cars unless they were tied to a misdemeanor or felony crime. As a result, the total number of pursuits dropped in 2003, to 615, from the prior year’s 754. In 2004, there were 581 pursuits. Last year, the number rose to 602.



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