An LAPD patrol vehicle was intentionally struck during a hit-and-run crash that killed an officer, Police Chief Charlie Beck said during a Thursday news conference.
Mynor Enrique Varela, 20, was accused of driving the SUV that T-boned a patrol car on Saturday, May 3, killing Los Angeles Police Department Officer Roberto Sanchez.
Sanchez and his partner, identified as Officer Richard Medina, had been pursuing a Chevrolet Camaro when they made a U-turn and were hit by a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV.
Varela crashed into the patrol car to “aid a friend” driving the Camaro, Beck said Thursday.
Varela was charged Wednesday with one count of murder, one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, two counts of assault on a peace officer, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.
“He intentionally committed homicide, and that is why these charges have been filed,” Beck said Thursday.
His 19 year old brother Bryan- who police say was the passenger in the car- could face possible charges as well
Varela pleaded not guilty during a Wednesday arraignment, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
His brother, 19-year-old Bryan Varela, was a passenger in the SUV at the time of the crash, Beck said.
Bryan Varela could also face charges. He had served time but was released early under the state’s prison realignment law and was being held pending further investigation.
“He fled the scene. Like his brother, he failed to render aid to the injured and dying officer,” Beck said. “He has been taken into custody on a flash incarceration, and will be held there pending further investigation into this case.”
Nearby residents said they heard the SUV and Camaro doing donuts, spins and speeding down the roadway prior to the crash.
Investigators know who the driver of the Camaro was, but have not detained the individual, according to police.
Sanchez, 32, was a six-year veteran of the LAPD. He was survived by his wife and both parents.
Medina was hospitalized and released.
Sanchez was one of 207 fallen LAPD officers honored Thursday at an annual memorial for those killed in the line of duty.