Los Angeles: Last night, just after 11 p.m., witnesses near the Right Track nightclub on Hobart Boulevard flagged down a police car after seeing the driver of a silver Lexus with a gun.
Officers Tim McLaughlin and Aquiles Morales followed the Lexus as it turned north on Halldale Avenue into a residential neighborhood. The officers went in pursuit near Gage Avenue. Within a block the Lexus crashed into parked cars at 61st Street and overturned.
Despite his injuries, the driver, later identified as gang member Joel Wilbarn, 22 years, crawled out of the car and ran toward a driveway at 1455 West 61st Street. He was bleeding from his head, and reaching into the waistband of his pants. Wilbarn refused to heed the officers’ commands and violently struggled with them until Officer McLauglin finally struck Wilbarn in the head with the butt of his service weapon.
Once in custody, the officers found a substantial quantity of cocaine in Wilbarn’s pants pockets. A 9mm pistol was also located along the chase route, near 68th and Halldale.
Wilbarn had taken the Lexus at gunpoint from a victim on Florence Avenue, the same place where the citizens had originally flagged down the officers. Wilbarn was booked for carjacking. He was treated at California Medical Center.
Because the officer’s use of force involved a strike to the head, the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division will conducted an in-depth investigation of the incident. The Police Commission’s Inspector General was present at the crime scene.
Officer McLaughlin is 35 years old and has 7 ½ years of service with LAPD. Both officers are assigned to 77th Street Police Station.
This news release was prepared by LAPD’S Media Relations Section. For questions please call 213-485-3586.