South LA chase suspect dies in LAPD custody; probe underway


On Sept. 7, gang enforcement officers were in pursuit of a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban in South Los Angeles, suspecting that the driver was under the influence. The chase ended near Jim Gillian Park, where three suspects, including 26-year-old Jorge Azucena, fled the vehicle on foot.

A police air unit tracked down Azucena and another suspect. They were taken into custody without incident. Azucena was taken to the Southwest Area Police Station and placed in a detention cell.

While he was in the cell, authorities say he seemed to be in medical distress and died several hours later in the hospital.

Police Chief Charlie Beck released the following statement about the investigation:

"Naturally I am very concerned whenever we have an in-custody death. The investigation is still ongoing and we have no initial belief that force was used. As in every case on this department, we will hold our personnel accountable for all their actions."

The incident will be reviewed by Beck, the Office of the Inspector General, the Board of Police Commissioners and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Justice System Integrity Division.

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