A 22-year-old Los Angeles man involved in an hours-long police pursuit that began in East Los Angeles and ended with a freeway standoff in Santa Ana was charged Friday with grand theft auto and other counts.
Bryan Santana was also charged with unlawful taking of a vehicle and buying or receiving a stolen vehicle or equipment, both felonies, as well as misdemeanor counts of failure to obey a traffic officer and driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
Santana pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana Friday and was ordered to return to court Nov. 19 for a pretrial hearing in the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.
Santana is accused of stealing a big rig in East Los Angeles Wednesday, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera.
The chase began around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday and came to a stop around 4 a.m. Thursday on the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway at MacArthur Boulevard. But Santana refused to exit the vehicle, prompting a standoff that lasted about 4 1/2 hours and forced the closure of the freeway.
Santana was finally taken into custody around 8:30 a.m.
But the damage was already done for commuters, who scrambled to find alternate routes through the area and clogged city streets for miles.
The rig was stolen from a food service lot at Fifth and Indiana streets in East Los Angeles, California Highway Patrol spokesman Patrick Kimball said. An employee of ISF (Individual Food Service), a Bell-based food service company, called police to report the tractor trailer was stolen.
CHP pursued the driver via helicopter and with patrol vehicles, slowing the suspect using spike strips multiple times on the 118 and 101 freeways, causing blowouts to the rig’s front and back tires, but the suspect did not stop, Kimball said. At least two of the 18-wheeler’s tires were blown completely off the rig. Olivera said more than half of the tires were flattened.
With the truck running primarily on damaged rims, the suspect stopped on the 55 Freeway, beginning the standoff that forced the freeway closure. Police backed an armored vehicle up to the truck’s cab to pin the motorist in place, but he still refused to exit the vehicle.
After hours of negotiations, Santana surrendered without incident, Olivera said.