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Not-guilty plea in hit-run crash that killed LAPD officer

LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez was killed in a hit-and-run crash near Anaheim Street and President Avenue in Harbor City Saturday, May 3, 2014.

May 7, 2014 11:30:22 AM PDT
Mynor Enrique Varela, 20, pleaded not guilty to five felony counts in the hit-and-run death of LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez.

Varela has been charged with murder, vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident and two counts assaulting a peace officer.

The complaint states that Varela personally used a deadly weapon, the Chevy Tahoe he was driving when he allegedly struck Sanchez's patrol car broadside.

LAPD Officer Roberto Sanchez, 32, of Santa Ana and his partner Richard Medina were following a speeding white Camaro when both vehicles made U-turns near Anaheim Street and President Avenue around 3:45 a.m. Saturday.

Varela, who also had been heading eastbound on Anaheim Street, allegedly struck their patrol car on the driver's side.

Varela's defense attorney says that many facts have not been uncovered.

"They filed everything from the highest possible charge, which would be the murder, to just a hit-and-run. Everything but the kitchen sink is filed in the middle," said Regina Filippone, Varela's attorney. "I think there's a lot of investigation to do to find out what really happened here."

LAPD says this is a complex case and will not comment on whether occupants of the Tahoe knew the occupant or occupants of the Camaro the LAPD officers had been chasing.

Varela's family made no comment as they left the courthouse. Mynor's brother, Bryan, who may have been a passenger in the SUV was taken into custody for a parole violation during the investigation.

"It's not clear at this time that his brother's going to be charged in this matter," said Filippone.

Deputy District Attorney John Colello had no comment, saying only the investigation is ongoing.

Officer Roberto Sanchez was a six-year veteran, 32 years old, and was married just three months ago.

Varela has no criminal record or previous offense. He was held without bail until his next court date on June 11.

Donation accounts have been set up for each officer at the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union, P.O. Box 10188, Van Nuys, CA 91410. Donations should be sent with checks made payable either to "Blue Ribbon Trust for Roberto Sanchez" or "Blue Ribbon Trust for Richard Medina."

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