By Brenda Gazzar and Kelly Goff
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles Police Department motorcycle officer who was struck by an alleged DUI driver Saturday in Sun Valley has died, department officials said today.
Officer Christopher Cortijo was critically injured when the 26-year veteran of the force was stopped behind a Honda Accord at a red light on Lankershim Boulevard at Saticoy Street around 5:30 p.m., according to police. A Chevy Blazer speeding south failed to stop for the light and collided with the rear of his motorcycle, crushing him and the motorcycle between the two larger vehicles, officials said.
"It's a tremendous sadness for all of us," Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas, who oversees the LAPD's Valley Bureau, said by phone after Cortijo's death. "He was not only a great officer, but a great person. Everyone's thoughts are with his family. His family will be our family forever."
A Pacoima woman pleaded not guilty Tuesday to felony charges of driving under the influence of drugs in connection with the crash. Prosecutors charged Qaneak Shaney Cobb, 33, with one count each of driving under the influence of a drug causing injury and possession of a controlled substance, cocaine. She had also had an expired license since 2005 and a long list of criminal felony convictions for charges that included grand theft and possession of a controlled substance.
The injuries caused the Valley Traffic officer at the time "to become comatose due to brain injury and to suffer paralysis," according to the complaint filed Monday with Los Angeles County Superior Court.
L.A. Superior Court Commissioner Mitchell Block set Cobb's bail at $150,000, the amount requested by prosecutors. While Cortijo was still clinging to life, Cobb was facing more than 10 years in state prison if convicted, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. A spokeswoman for the DA's office said Wednesday that normally charges would be amended in a situation like this, but that has not been determined yet.
McClatchy-Tribune News Service
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