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Taxi driver killed in crash with man fleeing LA police

The Associated Press
February 23, 2006

WEST HOLLYWOOD—An attempted kidnapping suspect fleeing Los Angeles police in a pickup truck collided with a taxi early Thursday, killing the cabbie, authorities said.

Asatur Tokatlyan, 42, died en route to the hospital, said Kevin Maiberger of the Los Angeles Police Department. Tokatlyan lived in Hollywood with his wife and two children.

Jeremy Peterson, 29, was arrested at the scene of the accident, then taken to a hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Maiberger.He faced possible charges of murder and attempted kidnapping, Maiberger said.The high-speed crash happened just before 4 a.m. after a woman called police from her cell phone to report she was being followed by a man who had gotten out of his truck and tried to grab her.

While police were interviewing the woman, she pointed to a passing white pickup she said belonged to the man who had followed her.

Maiberger said police pursued the suspect at high speed for a few minutes until the collision. The crash was so severe that rescuers had to cut the cab apart to get Tokatlyan out."Obviously he was traveling at a high rate of speed, due to the damage that he did to the taxi," police Lt. Joe Peyton told reporters.Streets in the area were blocked for hours while authorities investigated.

The chase appeared to be in compliance with the department's pursuit policy, Peyton said. The Police Department revised its policy in 2003 to restrict officers from pursuing vehicles unless they were tied to a misdemeanor or felony crime.

Lt. Paul Vernon said the intersection has a red-light camera, adding that police will review it as part of their investigation.

"Now everything is over for us. I don't know what happened, what's going to happen," Tokatlyan's wife,
Mary, told KCAL-TV. "We're going to miss him forever."



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