A Harbor City man pleaded not guilty to murder Wednesday in connection to a hit-and-run crash that left a Los Angeles police officer dead over the weekend.
Prosecutors allege Mynor Enrique Varela, 20, was behind the wheel of the SUV that slammed into an LAPD patrol car early Saturday in Los Angeles, killing Officer Roberto Sanchez.
Sanchez, 32, died at the scene. His partner, fellow Harbor Division Officer Richard Medina, suffered serious injuries including a broken jaw.
Varela has been charged with one count of murder, one count of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, two counts of assault on a peace officer and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.
He is being held without bail, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. He is due back in court June 11.
Varela's attorney, Regina Filippone, told reporters outside the courthouse her client has no crimninal history. She declined to comment specifically on the charges, saying the investigation is in its very early stages.
If convicted, Varela faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
According to LAPD officials, Sanchez and Medina were pursuing a white Chevrolet Camaro east on Anaheim Street in Harbor City for a traffic violation at 3:45 a.m. when both cars made a U-turn at Senator Avenue.
The police cruiser was hit on the driver’s side by the SUV, which was also traveling east on Anaheim Street.
It is unclear if the cruiser's lights and sirens were on.
Sanchez, a 6-year veteran of the force, lived in Santa Ana with his wife of three months. A funeral service has been scheduled for May 14 at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.
Sanchez is the third Los Angeles police officer to die in a crash in two months.