By Aaron Blevins, 3/01/2012
Officer Involved Shooting Occured Near Wilshire and Vermont
An alleged carjacker is dead after being shot by law enforcement officers following a televised police chase that ended in Koreatown on Thursday.
According to Los Angeles Police Department Commander Andrew Smith, Shonchy Thaopraseuth allegedly had stolen an Acura from a 30-year-old woman in San Bernandino at approximately 3:15 p.m. Three hours later, he allegedly stole a Saturn from a 65-year-old man at gunpoint at Valley Boulevard and North Eastern Avenue, Smith said.
He said Thaopraseuth, a San Bernandino resident, had either run out of gas or felt inclined to switch cars. During the second carjacking, a Good Samaritan called 911, and an hour-long chase ensued shortly thereafter, Smith said. He added that the slow-speed chase followed a “circuitous route” through Hollywood and Koreatown.
Video footage showed Thaopraseuth pulling the Saturn into the crowded Shell gas station at Wilshire Boulevard and Vermont Avenue at approximately 7:30 p.m. He stopped the vehicle, and several LAPD squad cars pulled up behind him. A nearby man pumping gas quickly ran around the other side of the pump and was ushered out of harm’s way by officers soon after.
Police officers, who responded from LAPD’s Wilshire, Olympic and Hollenbeck divisions, fired several rounds into the Saturn after Thaopraseuth allegedly pointed a gun at patrons inside the gas station, “causing an imminent threat,” Smith said. Thaopraseuth died at the scene.
“We knew he had a gun,” Smith said. “The officers saw him waving his gun around inside the car” during the chase.
He said no officers or bystanders were injured during the incident, though a .38-caliber handgun was found at the scene. The investigation is ongoing, and officers aren’t sure why Thaopraseuth led them on the hour-long pursuit.
“Other than stealing cars, we don’t really have a motive,” Smith said. “We’re just glad no innocent victims were hurt.”
The LAPD Force Investigation Division (FID) will conduct an investigation of the officer-involved shooting. According to a statement, the investigation will ultimately be reviewed by the chief of police, the Office of the Inspector General and the Board of Police Commissioners for compliance with the LAPD’s use-of-force policy.
Anyone with information about the incident is advised to call the FID at (213)486-5230. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to (877)LAPD-24-7. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at (800)222-TIPS. Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.