A 21-year-old man was ordered Tuesday to stand trial on murder and other charges in connection with a crash last year that killed a Los Angeles police officer and seriously injured his partner.
Superior Court Judge Judith L. Meyer found sufficient evidence to require Mynor Enrique Varela to proceed to trial on counts involving the May 3, 2014, crash at Anaheim and Senator streets in Harbor City that killed LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez, 32.
Varela is charged with 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 was allegedly behind the wheel of an SUV that collided with the patrol car as the officers were in pursuit of a Chevrolet Camaro around 4 a.m.
The Camaro and the patrol car were traveling east on Anaheim Street and both drivers 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.
Sanchez — a six-year veteran of the force who had gotten married several months earlier — was the third LAPD officer to die in a car crash within a two-month period.
His partner, Richard Medina, suffered a broken jaw.
Varela was taken into custody later that day. Five days after the crash, Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck alleged that Varela deliberately drove the SUV into the patrol car to aid a friend in the Camaro who was being pursued by police.
Varela is due back in a Long Beach courtroom for arraignment June 30.
— City News Service