Officer Nicholas Lee
Officer Nicholas Lee
Photo credit: Los Angeles Police Department
A veteran Los Angeles Police Department officer was killed and a rookie was injured Friday morning when their patrol car collided with a dump truck in Beverly Hills, possibly due to a brake failure on the truck.
The crash occurred around 8 a.m. near the intersection of Loma Vista Drive and Robert Lane. The male training officer — identified by the coroner as 40-year-old Nicholas Choung Lee — died at the scene, while the second officer, a female on the force just three months and still on probation, was transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Both were from LAPD’s Hollywood Division.
Police Chief Charlie Beck and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited the injured officer — who has not been publicly identified — at the hospital and said she will survive.
“She is alert, in considerable pain from injuries that she will survive,” Beck said outside the hospital. “They don’t require surgery. She has a tremendous heart. She is determined to recover from her injuries.”
The driver of the truck was also transported to the hospital with injuries and is also expected to survive.
The chief praised Lee, a more than 10-year veteran, as extremely well respected. “It’s a sad day today in the city of Los Angeles and the whole region,” he said.
Beck said investigators are still looking into the cause of the collision, but early reports indicated the driver of the dump truck may have lost control due to a brake failure. He noted the steepness of that stretch of winding Loma Vista Drive, which is one of the few in the Los Angeles area with warning signs for truck drivers.
While the crash occurred in Beverly Hills, Beck noted it is common for officers to cross city lines in the area. He said the two officers were en route to a call of “unknown trouble” at the time of crash and was unsure if they had on lights and sirens.
Garcetti described the probationary officer as “very brave, very alert” during their visit. He has ordered flags to be flown at half-mast throughout the city in honor of the officer who was killed.
“We grieve a hero this morning,” the mayor said. “An officer gave his life in the service of the people of Los Angeles. Every officer in uniform, Los Angeles Police Department and any police officer in this city and this county, every single time they suit up, it could be their last day — and today it was.”
“The folks in Hollywood Division, which as a council member I represented for a long time, I know are grieving, and I hope people will keep the family, as well as fellow officers and friends, in their prayers. The chief and I were able to visit with his partner, and she’s strong, she’s going to make it through this.”
Beck and Garcetti also visited the site of the collision, where they accompanied the officer’s body as it was moved from the wrecked cruiser to a waiting coroner’s van. The van was escorted by a dozen motor officers and several patrol cars as it made its way from the scene. The caravan passed the LAPD’s Hollywood Station, where about 100 uniformed and civilian employees lined up to salute the procession.
Tyler Izen, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents the department’s rank-and-file officers, issued a statement of support for the training officer’s family and the recovering probationary officer.
“With sad hearts we mourn the loss of the brave and courageous police officer who died this morning in a traffic collision,” he said. “The officer’s death is a tragic loss that reminds us of the risks that law enforcement officers take every day to keep our community safe. His service and sacrifice will never be forgotten. On behalf of all LAPD officers, our hearts and condolences go out to his family and friends and the entire LAPD family who feels his loss so deeply.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 the Daily News (Los Angeles)
McClatchy-Tribune News Service