Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck Thursday night went to the scene of the death of a 6-year-old girl who was killed when a vehicle chased by patrol units hit her, and his comments made it clear he agonized over her demise. He said it's always a tough call to make on whether or not to call off a pursuit, and if he had known beforehand that Kayla Woods would take her last breath that day he would have told the whole police force to stay home. He seemed to be responding to some neighbors who questioned whether the chase should have been canceled.
Woods was playing with friends in the 11900 block of Fenton Avenue in Lake View Terrance when she was struck by the vehicle about 6:30 p.m., police said.
"It was a very brief pursuit, during which time the suspects involved threw two handguns out the window and almost immediately after that lost control of their vehicle and ran up into a residential neighborhood yard where multiple children were playing,'' Beck said.
The whole thing started when officers spotted what the believed to be a drug deal going down at Foothill and Van Nuys boulevards in Sylmar and tried to stop a suspect vehicle allegedly involved in the transaction. It took off.
After the pursuit ended, two passengers were arrested, but the driver fled and a search was conducted. Police say 32-year-old Panorama City resident Aaron Esqueda Rojas was found two hours later hiding in a trash can. He allegedly resisted capture, resulting in officers using a Taser and a canine unit to get him to surrender. He was bitten and then booked on suspicion of felony evading resulting in death.
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Passenger Joaquin Hiriarte was booked on suspicion of being an ex-felon with a
gun; passenger Manuel Araujo was booked on suspicion of possessing drugs for sale, police said.
Shouldn't there be murder or manslaughter charges attached to this case? We guess that's a question for the District Attorney's office.
-With reporting from City News Service. Got news? Email us.