Passenger Forces Driver Into ‘Bear Hug’ Before Being Taken Into Custody at End of Pursuit in Montebello: Police

The female driver of a stolen U-Haul truck and her male passenger – who together led police on a pursuit through the Southeast Los Angeles County area – were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon after the chase ended in an unusual scene.

A man and a woman are taken into custody in Montebello after leading police on a lengthy pursuit in the Southeast L.A. area on Jan. 3, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

The unidentified driver stopped in Montebello after hitting a CHP spike strip, losing a tire and crashing into another truck. The two suspects then remained inside the pickup – consuming alcohol and narcotics, according to police – for some 30 minutes.

When the driver tried to get out, she was pulled back by the male passenger, police said. About 12:30 p.m., she eventually got out onto the roadway and was being given commands by armed officers stationed behind her. But then the passenger got out, put the driver in a "bear hug" and refused to let go of her, according to Bell Gardens police.

Aerial video from Sky5 showed the man following the driver out through the driver's side door, embracing her and repeatedly kissing her on the mouth as she tried to hold her hands behind her head. At one point, she tried to push him away.

Within 30 seconds, officers surrounded them, guns raised.

"Officers approached the suspects out of concerned for the safety of the female suspect," read a Bell Gardens Police Department statement posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon. "Officers ordered the male to release the female, he refused at which time he was tased."

Struck by the stun gun, the man fell to the pavement, and another officer took the woman down. Both were taken into custody.

The passenger kisses the driver at the end of a pursuit in Montebello on Jan. 3, 2018. (Credit: KTLA)

Bell Gardens police later identified the woman as Trisha Martinez, and the man as her boyfriend, Harold Escobar-Chavez; both are believed to be transients.

They were taken to a hospital where they were treated for alleged methamphetamine use. Neither has been booked, but that was expected at some point, police said.

The pursuit began about 10:30 a.m. when Bell Gardens officers tried to stop the stolen U-Haul. The driver initially pulled over but then sped away before officers could get out of their vehicle, according the police statement.

The chase continued through several cities, on surface streets and freeways, and at one point the California Highway Patrol took over. In Montebello, the truck ran a red light and was involved in a collision, police said.

During the two-hour chase, the driver often became stuck in traffic but continued to elude officers.

At one point, the passenger was seen getting a package from a pedestrian outside the truck, Sky5 video showed. Luggage and other items appeared to be in the bed of the truck.

The truck sustained an apparent flat tire about 11:35 a.m., but continued to evade officers at a slower speed in the Commerce area.

Once the vehicle stopped, at Third Street and Whittier Boulevard in Montebello, the passenger was seen throwing additional items out of the truck. It is unclear what those items were.

The U-haul truck was reported stolen out of Alhambra, according to investigators.

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