Officer Rescues Kidnap Victim

April 29, 2007

Los Angeles: A police sergeant fired to disable a white van last Sunday morning, April 22, 2007, after he realized that several men in the van were holding a woman against her will. The woman escaped and three men were later arrested.

The kidnapping occurred just after 4:00 A.M., outside the Felix Bar on Florence Boulevard when two Hispanic men force a 24-year-old Latina into the van, which contained at least one additional man. Witnesses reported the incident, explaining the men and woman had been drinking at the bar.

Sergeant Pedro Torres, 40, drove toward the bar and noted the van’s description and license plate number from the radio broadcast. Torres turned a corner and found himself head on with the white van. He exited his police car and ordered the van’s occupants to get out.

"The sergeant could see a naked woman, apparently unconscious in the van," said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. "No one came out and the van started to drive away. Sergeant Torres had to make a split-second decision. He realized he could not let these men drive away with the woman."

As the van pulled away, Torres fired at the van’s tires, using two-round bursts. He fired a total of six shots. Several of the rounds hit their marks and he could hear the tires burst as the van drove around the corner.

Police quickly found the victim walking in the street near 61st Street and Menlo Avenue. Officers found the white van abandoned a few blocks away at Hoover Street.

Eventually three men were arrested for kidnapping: Saul Bramasco, 31; Carlos Luevano, 23, who was driving the van; and Jose Cordova, 32. Investigators are still trying to determine whether any other men were involved.

The victim was not seriously injured, and no one was hit by the shots fired. The victim said the suspects had a gun, but none was found so far.

Sergeant Torres is an 11-year veteran of the LAPD, and he is assigned to the 77th Street Police Station. The Felix Bar is located at 640 West Florence Avenue.