Passenger in SUV in Collision That Killed Officer May Also Face Charges

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    TK

    Authorities are exploring the potential criminal liability of the passenger in the SUV that fatally injured an LAPD motorycle, a source close to the investigation told NBC4.

    The complaint against the driver, Qaneak Shaney Cobb, alleges that she was under the influence of cocaine when she hit Officer Cortijo on April 5.

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    The passenger, whom authorities have not publicly identified, is believed to be the owner of the vehicle, the source said.

    There is a legal theory that facilitators of driving under the influence can be liable for civil damages, according to attorney Steven Levine.

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    Some states such as Tennessee criminalize it, said Levine, who can envision circumstances where it could also be criminal under California law.

    "If the person knows the driver is obviously intoxicated, it's no different than if I had a a pit bull that has bitten people and I let it loose at a park and it maims or kills a little child?" he asked. "That person is going to be responsible.

    The Los Angeles District Attorney's office declined to comment about potential against the owner.

    Cobb is the only person charged in the case, said DA spokeswoman Jane Robinson.

    Cobb is scheduled to appear in court on May 30.

    Cortijo was still clinging to life when Cobb was arraigned, and for now the principal charge against her is driving under the influence of a drug, causing injury.

    Cobb is also charged with a count of possession of a controlled substance.

    Cobb, 33, could now be charged with vehicular manslaughter, or perhaps murder.

    Cortijo, 51, a veteran of the US Marine Corps and 26 years with LAPD, was stopped at a red light in Sun Valley on Saturday, April 5.

    The approaching SUV failed to stop, police said.

    Authorities have not described the circumstances under which Cobb allegedly came under the influence.

    Represented by the public defender's office, Cobb has pleaded not guilty.

    Cobb, who has lived at various locations in the San Fernando Valley, has a criminal record for charges including prostitution, grand theft and narcotics violations, court records show.

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