Arrest Made In Crash That Killed LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez - KMSP-TV

Arrest Made In Crash That Killed LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez

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Los Angeles, CA -

(FOX 11) Murder and other charges were filed yesterday against a young man accused of fleeing the scene after crashing an SUV into a patrol car, killing a Los Angeles Police Officer and seriously injuring his partner.

Mynor Enrique Varela, 20, of Harbor City pleaded not guilty this afternoon to one count each of murder, vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and leaving the scene of an accident, along with two counts of assault on a peace officer.

The criminal complaint also includes an allegation of second-degree murder of a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties, which can carry a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Varela, who was arrested Tuesday, remains in custody without bail. He was ordered to return to the Long Beach courthouse on June 11 for the setting of a preliminary hearing date.

Police and prosecutors allege Varela was in the driver's seat when the SUV collided with Officer Roberto C. Sanchez's patrol car at Anaheim and Senator streets at 3:55 a.m. last Saturday in the Harbor City area.

Varela was detained later that day, initially as a person of interest, after he was seen leaving the crash scene, as was another person who ended up being held on a parole violation, said Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andy Smith.

Outside the courtroom, Varela's attorney, Regina Filoppone, said prosecutors were "throwing everything but the kitchen sink" at her client -- who she said has no criminal record -- though "there's a lot of investigation to do to find out what really happened here."

Filoppone said it was not clear if Varela's brother, who was reportedly a passenger in the SUV, would face any charges. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and District Attorney Jackie Lacey scheduled a Thursday morning news conference to discuss the case.

Varela appeared in court today in a wheelchair, but the injuries came from an earlier injury, not Saturday's crash, according to his attorney.

Sanchez, 32, and Medina were in pursuit of a Chevrolet Camaro whose driver committed a traffic violation, according to Smith. Both vehicles were traveling east on Anaheim Street and made U-turns, at which point the patrol car was struck on the driver's side by the SUV, which also had been heading east on Anaheim Street. It was unclear if the cruiser's emergency lights and siren were on.

Medina used his cellphone to call for help, because the car was so damaged the radio in it was unusable, according to officers at the scene.

Sanchez's partner, Officer Richard Medina, was released from the hospital Sunday and is home recovering. He suffered a broken jaw and other injuries in the crash.

Sanchez, a six-year veteran of the force who got married several months ago, was the third LAPD officer to die in wrecks in a two-month period.

In March, an officer was killed when an out-of-control truck struck his patrol car on steep Loma Vista Drive and, in April, a motorcycle officer was killed when he was struck from behind by an alleged drugged driver and pinned against the vehicle in front of him.

Los Angeles Police Officer Sara Faden said Sanchez' funeral will be held a week from today, but details are still being finalized.

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