A woman driving a stolen car rammed a police cruiser, then led authorities on a wild pursuit Thursday morning that ended with officers dragging her out of the car, according to police and TV news video of the incident.

The chase began about 2:15 a.m. at Sherman Way and Haskell Avenue in Van Nuys, where officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle that was reported stolen, said LAPD Officer Irma Mota.

The driver stopped for a moment, but then sped off with police in pursuit, Mota said.

During that chase, the woman stopped again and officers jumped out of their vehicle and ordered her out of the car, Mota said. That’s when the driver threw the car into reverse and rammed the passenger door the police vehicle, injuring the officer who was positioned behind it, Mota said.

The woman then drove off, followed by other officers. She finally stopped after she drove onto a sidewalk and hit a utility pole, police said. Video from the scene showed the woman standing up in her car — the top half of her body poking through the vehicle’s sun roof — and smoking a cigarette.

Officers eventually closed in and grabbed her but she appeared to struggle. After a few moments officers pulled her out of the car and put her face-down on the ground. The woman continued to smoke her cigarette until an officer finally flicked it out of her mouth.

Police identified the driver as Christina Ohanian, 25. She was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and driving a stolen vehicle, among other charges.

The injured officer was treated at a hospital and released, Mota said.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.



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A suspected carjacker who was fatally shot Tuesday by South Gate police was armed with a replica firearm, according to authorities.

The man, identified by coroner’s officials as 36-year-old David Pacas, had carjacked a woman at gunpoint about 7 a.m. in West Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

About 45 minutes later, South Gate officers who had been alerted to the stolen Honda Pilot tried to stop the vehicle. But Pacas continued driving and led officers on a pursuit through city streets, the Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Pacas eventually crashed into another vehicle at the intersection of California Avenue and Santa Ana Street, causing that vehicle to collide with a third car. Pacas then struck three more parked vehicles, authorities said.

Pacas exited the Honda and ran into an apartment complex in the 3400 block of Santa Ana Street, deputies said.

According to the Sheriff’s Department, Pacas was carrying “a dark colored firearm” as he ran away from officers.

Officers ran after him and a shooting occurred, authorities said. Pacas was struck in the upper torso. It was unclear whether he aimed or fired the replica gun at police. No officers were injured.

A woman was hurt in the collisions that ended the car chase, the Sheriff’s Department said. She was hospitalized and listed in fair condition.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA



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A court-appointed California investigator has blamed Oakland’s mayor and the city’s former police chief for mishandling and downplaying a sexual misconduct scandal in the city’s police department.

Investigator Ed Swanson in documents filed in court Wednesday put much of the blame on former Police Chief Sean Whent but also singled out Mayor Libby Schaaf for failing to monitor the case after she vowed dramatic reforms.

Swanson’s report faulted police for failing to launch a serious investigation into a teenager’s claims she had sex with as many as two dozen officers starting when she was 16.

The city paid the victim almost $1 million to settle her legal claims. Seven current and former officers face criminal charges.

Schaaf’s spokesman, Michael Hunt, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment on the report Wednesday.



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Authorities are investigating a robbery in Hesperia during which as many as four men broke into a house, tied up the occupants and stole a car and other property.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department deputies from the Hesperia station responded to a call at 3:40 a.m. Wednesday in the 15300 block of Sycamore Street, according to a news release from the department.

California Highway Patrol officers found the stolen car in front of a house in the West Covina area just after 5 a.m., and detained one man. Several men near the car ran away when they saw the officers, according to the news release.

Anyone with information should call the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Hesperia station at (760) 947-1500.

Reach Sonali Kohli at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.



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A man was fatally shot by South Gate police Tuesday morning following a pursuit that ended in a crash involving multiple vehicles, authorities said.

The man was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene in South Gate, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which is assisting in the investigation. No officers were injured.

Capt. Darren Arakawa, a South Gate police spokesman, told KTLA-TV that officers were patrolling a neighborhood just after 7:45 a.m. when they received an alert about a stolen vehicle in the area.

As the officers investigated, they got additional information indicating the vehicle may have been linked to a carjacking in Los Angeles, he said.

A squad of police cruisers began following the vehicle and tried to stop it.

But the motorist continued driving and crashed into a vehicle at the intersection of California Avenue and Santa Ana Street, Arakawa told the news station. That vehicle collided with a second vehicle.

The suspect then struck three parked vehicles, the captain said.

After the crash, the suspect left the stolen vehicle and ran into an apartment complex, where the police shooting occurred, he said.

Two people injured during the crash were taken to hospitals in the area, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA



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Detectives are investigating an apparent murder-suicide in Lancaster in which authorities said a man shot his wife and then himself early Monday.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office identified the woman as Jamie Lynn Matthews, 35, of Lancaster. The office is not identifying the man publicly until his next-of-kin is notified, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of operations for the coroner’s office.

The couple were arguing around 12:20 a.m. at their home in the 6300 block of Starview Drive when Matthews left to go to a neighbor’s house, according to an L.A. County Sheriff’s Department news release.

Her husband followed and shot her outside the neighbor’s home, striking Matthews at least once in the upper torso, authorities said. The husband then went inside their home and shot himself in the upper torso, according to the news release. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Anyone with information should call the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500.

sonali.kohli@latimes.com

Twitter: @Sonali_Kohli



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A police officer shot a man while responding to a domestic violence call in Sherman Oaks late Monday night, authorities said.

Los Angeles Police Department officers arrived at the 4200 block of Matilija Avenue about 11 p.m. and found a 75-year-old man holding a steak knife, authorities said. Police tried to “de-escalate” the situation but weren’t able to do so, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said during Tuesday’s Police Commission meeting. At some point, police used a Taser, and ultimately an officer shot the man once in his torso, he said.

The man was transported to a hospital in critical but stable condition, and no officers were injured, said LAPD Officer Irma Mota.

A steak knife was recovered and officers from the LAPD Force Investigation Division were at the scene Tuesday morning, Mota said. She did not know how many officers were present at the time of the shooting, and said there were no body cameras or in-car video.

Times reporter Kate Mather contributed to this post.

Reach Sonali Kohli at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.


UPDATES:

3:35 p.m.: This article was updated with the man’s age and information from L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck.

This article originally published at 9:55 a.m.



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Police are looking for a man who they say tried to kidnap a woman working at an Irvine baby store Saturday.

Surveillance video shows a man in a white shirt and plaid shorts talking to an employee at Mon Beau Bebe, in the Woodbury Town Center around before 7:20 p.m. He followed her around the store before grabbing her hair and trying to drag her into the storage room by her ponytail.

The woman crouched down on the floor and tried to free herself, and “told him there were video surveillance cameras in the store,” according to an Irvine Police Deptartment news release. After about 15 seconds the man let go of the woman and ran out.

The suspect is described as an Asian man in his 40s, of medium height and build. “He was last seen wearing plaid shorts, a white short-sleeve shirt, tennis shoes and eyeglasses.”

Anyone who recognizes him or has information should contact Irvine Police Det. Ed Kim at (949) 724-7179 or ekim@cityofirvine.org; or Det. Keith Herter at (949) 724-7183 or kherter@cityofirvine.org.

To read the article in Spanish, click here

Reach Sonali Kohli at Sonali.Kohli@latimes.com or on Twitter @Sonali_Kohli.



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In a widening investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department’s cadet program, Chief Charlie Beck on Sunday announced he has suspended training for cadets at the 77th Street Division and Pacific Division, where three cadets arrested on suspicion of stealing police cruisers were based.

The move is part of a “top-to-bottom” review of the citywide cadet program following revelations that besides the theft of three cruisers, the cadets may have also stolen other police equipment and posed as sworn officers. The suspensions are in effect pending the outcome of the investigation, officials said.

Two of the accused cadets were assigned to the 77th Street Division and the third to the Pacific Division, said Josh Rubenstein, LAPD public information director.

The teens, ages 15, 16 and 17, were not identified because they are minors. They were booked in connection with the theft of the cruisers and other LAPD property, Beck said. He added that all three were involved in the vehicle thefts but that it was not immediately clear which of them may have been involved in taking the other equipment.

Department officials said the three cadets led officers on car chases through the streets of South L.A. on Wednesday in a pair of stolen police cruisers. The car chases ended in separate crashes.

The thefts and chases sparked an investigation that revealed some of the cadets may have also stolen a bulletproof vest, two stun guns and two police radios, Beck told reporters last week.

Since the arrests, the cadet program has come under intense scrutiny. The captains in both divisions will now meet one on one with every cadet “regarding the severity and seriousness of the recent incidents” along with the need to maintain ethics, the LAPD said in a statement last week. Police officials will also meet with the parents of cadets in those divisions.

Investigators are trying to determine if other cadets were directly involved in the unauthorized use of LAPD patrol cars or knew of the thefts of the vehicles and other equipment.

Currently, about 2,300 teens ages 13 to 20 are enrolled in cadet programs. The programs operate at each of the LAPD’s 21 geographic stations. Only programs at the 77th Street Division and Pacific Division are suspended, officials said.

According to police sources, the cadets involved in the vehicle thefts made themselves unauthorized police uniforms and had driven at least one of the stolen patrol cars more than 1,000 miles.

Investigators are trying to determine what the teens were doing with the vehicles as well as where they went. Police said one of the cars went missing in late May. Detectives want to figure out whether the vehicle was stolen once or repeatedly taken and returned without detection, which would raise even greater concerns about how the LAPD tracks its cars.

Detectives are checking various cameras that read license plates around the Los Angeles area to see if the cruisers might have been logged and want to know when and where the cars were gassed up, according to multiple police sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss details about the ongoing investigation.

Sources said police had checked the odometers of the cars and discovered that at least one had been driven a significant distance since it was last used for official business.

Beck said the cadets may have been impersonating officers while driving the stolen cruisers, and he asked anyone living in Central and South Los Angeles or Inglewood who might have information to contact police.

The cadets were able to steal the cruisers in part because one of them used a sergeant’s identity to check out vehicles using a computer, the chief said.

In a statement Sunday, the department said it will inspect all cadet work areas for sensitive materials and unauthorized computer access. The LAPD has already begun a physical inventory of vehicles and equipment after the episode revealed lax oversight at the stations.

Sources told The Times that investigators also plan to examine the recovered stun guns. Data can be downloaded from the Tasers to show whether the devices were fired and if so, for how long. LAPD officials often look at such data when evaluating whether officers were justified in using force against someone.

Police, the sources said, already know the teens made several stops for gas, including at least one visit to a city-owned pump at City Hall East.

The department became aware that two LAPD cruisers had gone missing around 5 p.m. Wednesday, resulting in an investigation that Beck said “almost immediately” focused on a 16-year-old female cadet assigned to the 77th Street Division after officials found video of the teen fueling the car at a city gas pump. About 9:30 p.m., two stolen cruisers were spotted near the 77th Street station.

A chase began after the drivers ignored officers’ commands to pull over, Beck said. The stolen cars separated at some point, resulting in two chases that both ended in wrecks.

One cadet taken into custody was wearing a spare bulletproof vest used for training purposes, the chief said. A third car had also been taken by the cadets, but it was quickly located near the 77th Street station, Beck said.

The department said Beck plans to address all cadets during a formal inspection in coming days.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Twitter: @lacrimes



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Montebello police fatally shot a woman Saturday after she drove her car toward an officer and her boyfriend, whom she had been fighting with earlier in the day, authorities said.

The incident began when police responded to a disturbance call at the Quality Inn & Suites in the 7700 block of Telegraph Road about 4 p.m., said Deputy K. Moody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff‘s Department, which is investigating the shooting. The woman and her boyfriend, who were not patrons of the motel, had gotten into an argument outside the motel near the pool area, he said.

The two had been drinking, and the woman was heard to say that her boyfriend had taken her purse, Moody said. The woman then started hitting her boyfriend, he said.

When police arrived on the scene, the woman got into her car and drove out of the parking lot, Moody said. Officers were talking with her boyfriend when the woman drove back into the parking lot and toward an officer and her boyfriend, he said.

“At that time, an officer-involved shooting occurred,” Moody said.

The woman, who has not been identified, was taken to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, he said.

Sheriff’s homicide detectives are investigating the shooting. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Homicide Bureau at (323) 890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call “LA Crime Stoppers” by dialing 800-222-TIPS (8477) or using the website http://lacrimestoppers.org

rosanna.xia@latimes.com

Twitter: @RosannaXia



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