Man hit 13-year-old boy with truck and posed as cop to try to kidnap him, LAPD says

The man allegedly showed the boy a badge and told him he was a police officer and directed him to get into his truck.

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Thursday, July 7, 2022
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A 38-year-old man was arrested after he struck a 13-year-old on a bicycle with his vehicle, and then posed as a police officer to kidnap the teen, according to LAPD.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 38-year-old man was arrested for kidnapping after he reportedly posed as a police officer to convince a 13-year-old boy to get in his vehicle after hitting him with his truck near Panorama City, police said.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, the boy was riding his bike Wednesday morning near Van Nuys Boulevard and Tupper Street when he was struck by a pickup truck driven by Ottoniel Mendoza, police said.

Mendoza allegedly showed the boy a badge and told him he was a police officer and directed him to get into his truck.

"The victim followed the direction of the suspect and got into the suspect's truck," read a statement issued by LAPD on Wednesday.

A witness who saw the crash followed Mendoza and called police.

Mendoza was quickly found near Sepulveda Boulevard and Tupper Street. Police said he and another man were inside the truck with the 13-year-old.

"While the suspect was driving around with the victim in the vehicle, he picked up another male and just after that male was picked up, our Mission Area patrol officers found the vehicle and took everyone into custody," LAPD Valley Bureau Deputy Chief Alan Hamilton said.

The boy was sent to the hospital for minor injuries from the crash involving Mendoza's pickup truck.

Mendoza was arrested and booked for kidnapping, according to police. Cpt. Matthew Plugge, commanding officer for LAPD's Mission Area Patrol Division, said a charge of impersonating a law enforcement officer is pending.

The other man was interviewed but was not taken to jail, according to police.

Investigators released a photo of Mendoza in hopes of speaking with other possible victims.

Hamilton said it's hard to speculate what the motive was at this point or what could have happened, but he believes they would be looking for a missing teen if it wasn't for a good Samaritan who saw something and did something about it.

"It's probably likely that this individual saw this victim and saw the juvenile as a target and then created this traffic collision scenario," Hamilton said. "He took the juvenile into his car in a coercive manner, identified himself as law enforcement and then took off."

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact Mission Area Detective Bryce Kirk at (818) 838-9810.