Officer-Involved Shooting Occurs During a Traffic Stop

February 6, 2002

"Officer-Involved Shooting Occurs During a Traffic Stop"

Sun Valley: On Tuesday, February 5, 2002, at approximately 11:30 a.m., the Los Angeles Police Department’s North Hollywood Area Patrol Officers John Bennett, 39 years of age, 7 1/2 years with the Department and Heather Kowalczyk, 34 years of age, four years with the Department were on routine patrol. The officers observed a late model Chrysler sedan westbound on Victory Boulevard approaching the on-ramp for the northbound 170 freeway. The vehicle was being driven by the sole occupant, a male Hispanic in his early 20’s. The vehicle had no rear license plate or registration suspense receipt displayed, in violation of the California Vehicle Code.
The officers followed the vehicle onto the northbound 170 freeway and activated their emergency lights to effect a traffic stop. The vehicle stopped on the freeway shoulder, approximately 1/4 mile south of the Roscoe off-ramp. The officers approached the vehicle and Officer Bennett asked the suspect for his driver’s license and registration. The suspect suddenly produced a semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at Officer Bennett. Officer Bennett notified Officer Kowalczyk of the gun and redeployed to the rear of the suspect’s vehicle. Officer Kowalczyk observed the suspect pointing the handgun at Officer Bennett and, fearing for his life, drew her service pistol and fired at the suspect. Officer Bennett observed the suspect pointing his handgun at Officer Kowalczyk and, fearing for her life, fired multiple rounds at the suspect.
The suspect rapidly drove northbound and exited the freeway at the Roscoe Boulevard exit. The officers pursued the suspect but lost sight of his vehicle as they exited the freeway. Citizens directed the officers to the suspect’s vehicle, which had been abandoned at Strathern Street and Wilkinson Avenue. A perimeter was established and a search was conducted for the suspect. During the early stages of the incident, the suspect forced entry into one occupied residence within the perimeter, and attempted to gain entry into another. At each residence the suspect acquired a shirt from the occupants and then fled. The suspect did not harm the lone occupants of each residence.
At approximately 11:15 p.m., the search was called off after an extensive manhunt. The suspect apparently had fled the area before the officers were able to set up the perimeter. During the search, officers found a bloody white T-shirt with an apparent bullet hole in the back, outside, nearby the residences where he had acquired the different shirts. Investigators believe the bloody shirt belonged to the suspect and that the suspect was wounded in the back during the officer involved shooting.
No officers were injured during this incident.
The suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous. Anyone with information is urged to call Robbery Homicide Division at 213-485-2129. During off-hours or weekends call the 24-hour toll free number at the Detective Information Desk, 1-877-LAWFULL, 1-877-526-3855.
For further information regarding this release, contact Media Relations section at 213-485-3586. This press release was prepared by Sergeant John Pasquariello, Media Relations Section.