The suspect, who was also shot, was rushed to the hospital but died from his wound.
Police were following the DUI suspect near Penrose Street and Claybeck Avenue about 6:10 p.m. when it happened, authorities said.
Authorities are still trying to piece together exactly what happened.
"These were two officers trying to make a traffic stop," said LAPD Capt. Jerry Rodriguez. "An individual, seated in that car, unbeknownst to these officers, elected to take the officers' lives, or attempted to, instead of being stopped."
The officers tried to pull the silver Honda over for driving erratically. It ended suddenly a few moments later in a hail of gunfire.
"The driver of the vehicle that was fleeing stopped abruptly right at the intersection and engaged the officers without warning," Rodriguez said.
Witnesses said it was a fierce firefight.
"I heard the pow, pow, pow," eyewitness Senami Akinwumi said. "I was thinking that it was fireworks."
"I thought it was like 15 (shots)," said another unidentified witnesses. "It was a lot."
A gun was found in the suspect's car, investigators said.
"I do know that the person has had prior police contact," Rodriguez said. "What I don't know is why this person was so determined to engage the police versus allowing us to stop him."