A woman who killed a Los Angeles Police Department officer in a DUI crash three years ago pleaded no contest to second degree murder on Thursday and could face up to life in prison, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
Qaneak Shaney Cobb will be sentenced 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge on Oct. 30.
The deadly crash happened on April 5, 2014, when LAPD officer Christopher Cortijo was sitting on his motorcycle at a red light behind another vehicle in North Hollywood, prosecutors said.
Cobb was driving an SUV, a Chevrolet Blazer, that crashed into 51-year-old Cortijo from behind, prosecutors said.
Driving at a speed of 53 mph, she was under the influence of cocaine at the time, prosecutors said. Cortijo was crushed between two vehicles.
The 26-year LAPD veteran died from his injuries four days later.
After his death, his colleagues saluted as his body was taken from a Mission Hills hospital to a coroner’s van, which was accompanied by a police procession, as KTLA reported. Flags around the city of Los Angeles were to be lowered to half-staff at the mayor’s request.
Nearly two weeks later, a memorial service held for the veteran officer was attended by thousands in law enforcement. Just outside the cathedral where Cortijo’s funeral was held, another LAPD officer told of his own experiences with Cortijo dealing with DUI drivers.
“Officer Cortijo was actually the first officer on scene when I was struck by a drunk driver, and he rendered aid to me,” LAPD Officer David Fatool said. “So it’s a little disheartening that I wasn’t able to be there for him, to help him out.”
“He was one of the best guys on the DUI detail,” he said.
Cortijo was a former U.S. Marine and a father, and he had arrested more than 3,000 alleged DUI motorists, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said at the time.
The day before Cortijo died from his injuries, Cobb pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and possession of cocaine in connection with the crash. At the time, he had undergone multiple surgeries.
When Cortijo died, Cobb faced additional charges of murder and vehicular manslaughter — to which she also pleaded not guilty at the time.