Man charged with hitting scooter rider during wild, 3-county chase

OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- An Inglewood man who allegedly struck and injured a scooter rider while leading police on a nearly three-hour chase from Culver City to San Diego County last week is due to make his first appearance before a judge Friday afternoon.

Karl Flores, 34, is charged with one felony count each of fleeing a pursuing peace officer's motor vehicle causing serious bodily injury and hit- and-run driving resulting in injury to another person, along with two misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run driving resulting in property damage, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. His arraignment is scheduled at the Airport Branch Courthouse.

The scooter rider who was struck Jan. 3 in the 7800 block of West Manchester Avenue was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, according to Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics.

Two police patrol vehicles were also damaged during the chase, which began near Sepulveda and Washington boulevards in Culver City after police tried to pull over the red Honda Civic for vehicle code violations.

Culver City police initially pursued the car, but broke off the chase before being informed minutes later by Los Angeles police that the suspect had struck a person on a motorized scooter in the Playa del Rey area, according to Culver City Police Department Lt. Troy Dunlap. Culver City police then re- entered the chase, and Los Angeles police eventually took over the pursuit.

The chase continued at relatively slow speeds on Westchester-area streets. Police tried four times to stop the vehicle using PIT maneuvers, each time spinning the car around, but the motorist was able to drive away and elude capture. The Honda lost a rear bumper during the fourth PIT maneuver.

After the final PIT attempt, the suspect picked up speed and got on the southbound San Diego (405) Freeway, driving through Orange County and into San Diego County near Oceanside, where the car pulled to a stop alongside Interstate 5 around 1:30 p.m. -- apparently after running out of gas.

Despite coming to a stop, the suspect refused to immediately come out of the vehicle, although he opened the car door at least twice.

"The driver occasionally rolled the window down, exhibited rude hand gestures, partially came out of the vehicle, and yelled obscenities at the officers," California Highway Patrol Officer Mark Latulippe said.

Around 2:15 p.m., the suspect opened the door and partially stepped out. A police dog bit him in the abdomen and an officer fired two bean bag rounds, with one striking him in the face and the other in the stomach, according to Latulippe.

Officers swarmed the car and took Flores into custody. He was subsequently taken to the hospital for treatment.

The standoff on the San Diego Freeway near Oceanside had prompted the closure of the adjacent stretch of southbound Interstate 5, stranding thousands of motorists.

The driver's wife told police that Flores suffers from possible PTSD issues from prior military service.

If convicted as charged, Flores could face a possible maximum sentence of more than eight years in state prison.