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Positive Prognosis for Baby
Pursuit Defendant Pleads Innocent To Five Felony Charges
December 5, 2002

LOS ANGELES (CBS)—The prognosis is good for a three-week-old boy whose left arm was severed in a crash involving a driver fleeing police, a doctor said Thursday.

"The child ... will go on to lead a pretty normal life," said Dr. James Stein of Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Harley Medellin was injured Tuesday afternoon when a stabbing suspect fleeing from police ran a red light at Dronfield Avenue and Polk Street about 2:30 p.m.

The car allegedly driven by Alejandro Martinez, 26, slammed into the side of the Ford Expedition in which the infant was riding. Harley's father, Henry, and mother, Victoria, also were in the SUV and suffered minor injuries.

The family has retained Stephen Mancini of Koletsky, Mancini, Feldman & Morrow to retain its interests.

Meanwhile, Martinez pleaded innocent Thursday afternoon in a San Fernando courtroom to five felony charges, including evading police, DUI and assault with a deadly weapon.

The defendant, who had swelling beneath his right eye and a cut in his right eyebrow, is being held in lieu of $180,000 bail pending his next court appearance Dec. 16. He could face up to 11 years in state prison if convicted.

The Expedition's door jamb severed the child's arm, which was scooped up by rescuers and brought to the hospital with the boy, where an expert determined that reattachment was not viable.

The boy's father, Martinez and three other men in the suspect vehicle were also injured, though not seriously.

Police said the stabbing occurred in the 13000 block of North Maclay Avenue about 2 p.m. Minutes later, responding officers saw a blue Chevrolet Corsica matching the suspect vehicle description, Sgt. John Pasquariello said.

Police tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver sped away. The broadside crash occurred two minutes later.

The Los Angeles Police Commission is considering a change in policy regarding car chases. Some police departments have restricted chases to cases involving felony suspects. But in Los Angeles, the senior officer in the primary pursuit vehicle has wide discretion in deciding when to initiate, or end, a chase.

The number of police chases and ensuing injuries among pedestrians increased significantly last year, according to LAPD statistics cited by the Los Angeles Times.

Pursuits rose to 769 in 2001 from 597 the previous year. Pedestrian injuries climbed to 69 in 2001, nearly double the number in 1998.

This year, there have been at least two deaths in Southern California involving police pursuits.

Four-year-old Evelyn Vargas was fatally injured June 1 by a light pole knocked over in a pursuit-related crash in downtown Los Angeles

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