Los Angeles: A 45-year-old man was shot by a Los Angeles police officer after the man charged police at the end of a 15-minute pursuit last night, December 26, 2006. The still unidentified man died on the way to the Northridge Hospital.
"This was very unfortunate, but it appears the driver’s erratic actions were greatly influenced by narcotics," said LAPD spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vernon. "The man charged at the officers while holding an object and simulating a gun. He closed in on the officers, mimicking a shooting stance, to within a car length before one officer fired."
It was reported during the pursuit that the driver could be seen lighting and smoking a coke pipe.
The pursuit began around 9:45 P.M. when two motor officers, assigned to a police car due to impending rain, noticed the man driving erratically in a red Chevy truck. When the officers tried to pull over the truck, it took off.
Officers made several attempts to deflate the tires with spike strips, and the third or fourth attempt brought the car to a stop on Woodley Avenue, north of Sherman Way. The end of the pursuit which occurred around 10:00 P.M., was broadcast live on the local news.
Officer Tim Olsen, 31, and a 10-year LAPD veteran assigned to the Valley Traffic Division, fired at the charging driver, who dropped a metallic object from his hand as he fell. He is
Detectives from the Force Investigation Division worked through the night interviewing officers and witnesses, and processing evidence. Investigators preliminarily identified the dropped object as a spark plug socket. "Looking down the opening, such an object would resemble the barrel of a gun," Vernon added.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office will be responsible for identifying the man. It will also conduct toxicology tests to determine the level of intoxication and what type of drugs were involved.