By Aaron Blevins, 9/06/2012
Suspect steals patrol car before crashing into Starbucks
A man had his leg severed in a crash on Aug. 31 after allegedly stealing an LAPD squad car and taking it for a joy ride that ended with the patrol car careening into a local Starbucks, according to police.
LAPD spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez said the patrol car was left running outside a hotel on La Brea Avenue south of Adams Boulevard during an investigation into an assault with a deadly weapon case in the early hours of Aug. 31. An unrelated suspect, who has yet to be named, allegedly got into the car and drove off.
The suspect headed north in the Southwest Division patrol car, and a witness stated that the driver was likely exceeding 80 mph, Lopez said. He said the vehicle then jumped the curb, went airborne, crashed into the closed Starbucks and came to rest on a utility pole near the intersection of La Brea Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard. The wreck occurred at approximately 4:55 a.m.
“There was extensive damage to the front of the Starbucks coffee shop,” Lopez said.
The suspect, who severed his leg in the wreck and is still in critical condition at a nearby hospital, totaled the squad car, some of which cost more than $30,000. Lopez said the utility pole suffered minimal damage.
He said it was not necessarily common for officers to leave their squad cars running and unpatrolled, though it is warranted in some “hot” situations.
“Policy does not really address if you should,” Lopez said. “It’s something we don’t recommend. It’s a case-by-case scenario.”
He added that the department is conducting criminal, traffic and administrative investigations into the incident.
“There will be multiple facets in the investigation,” Lopez said.
The crash exacerbated rush hour traffic, as the intersection of La Brea Avenue and San Vicente Boulevard was closed until at least 4:30 p.m.