Suspect steals LAPD cruiser, leads chase that ends in Woodland Hills

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A man is in custody after jumping into a Los Angeles Police Department cruiser and leading authorities on a chase that ended in Woodland Hills early Friday morning, police say.

News video captured authorities in pursuit of the LAPD SUV, which traveled at speeds of about 65 mph.

The SUV crashed into a curb on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills. The suspect inside the LAPD vehicle got out and cooperated with police as they took him into custody.

LAPD Detective Meghan Aguilar said the chase started at Ivar Avenue in Hollywood at about 1:45 a.m., when officers were responding to a vandalism call in the area.

She said two officers exited their vehicle to pursue a suspect related to that call and left the keys with the patrol vehicle doors unlocked, which is not protocol. Aguilar said that is when the man, later identified as 28-year-old Ethan Rutland, jumped into the police cruiser and took off.

The chase lasted less than 30 minutes before California Highway Patrol officers deployed spike strips on the 101 Freeway.

Witnesses said it was unnerving to see what appeared to be officers pursuing their own vehicle.

"I heard sirens, I heard cop cars going. There was, like, at least 20, 25 cop cars when I walked outside, cause I was working at a pub, and I saw a helicopter, spotlights on him," said Rayner, a witness to the scene.

Aguilar said weapons were locked in the cruiser, but it didn't appear Rutland tried to access them. All weapons have since been accounted for.

Aguilar said the suspect may have been under the influence of narcotics.

Rutland was booked for unlawful taking of an emergency vehicle and is being held on $55,000 bail.

No injuries were reported in the incident.
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