Update: (6/19/12) According to the Burbank Police Department, Vardan Aslanyan has been charged with felony evading, due to the speed and reckless manner in which he was driving during the pursuit Friday night. He is also charged with felony hit and run due to his fleeing the scene of the accidents where people were injured, after he hit cars on Franklin Ave. shortly before the end of the pursuit. He was also charged with felony driving under the influence, and possession of heroin. In additon, he was charged with driving with a suspended license. The Mercedes-Benz he was driving was not registered to him, but was not stolen. It was registered to someone with the same last name, and police speculate that it belongs to a family member.
Update: (6/18/12) Vardan Aslanyan, 29, of Los Angeles, the driver who led police on a dangerous high-speed pursuit last Friday night, was booked into jail for evading a police officers causing injury, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and drug possession.
Seconds before the pursuit came to an end at Franklin Ave. and Vine St. in Hollywood, Aslanyan struck cars coming in the opposite direction on Franklin Ave. One of the vehicles he struck, overturned due to the impact. It was reported to be occupied by a family from Florida who were in Southern California on vacation. They had a 3 year-old boy in the car. The child, who was in a child car seat, was suspended upside down in the seat. He apparently did not suffer any physical injuries.
On Monday afternoon, Burbank Police stated that they are awaiting test results from the Sheriff’s Department Crime Lab to determine what drugs if any, Aslanyan had in his system at the time of the pursuit. When arrested, drugs were found on his person. His bail was set at $100,000. Police are awaiting a decision by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office as to what charges will be filed against Aslanyan in court.
A driver who appeared to have little or no regard for the public’s safety, led police on a high-speed pursuit that began in Burbank and ended in Hollywood Friday night.
The incident began shortly after 7:30 p.m., when an off-duty Burbank Police Officer called emergency dispatchers to report that he was following a reckless driver. The officer reported that the driver of a black late-model Mercedes-Benz was driving on the wrong side of the street on Kenneth Road, and making obscene gestures at other motorists.
The unidentified off-duty officer continued to follow the suspect vehicle northbound on Kenneth Rd. past Eton Dr. When the suspect reached the area of Kenneth and Scott Rd., the police helicopter arrived overhead. Officers in the helicopter, believing the driver might be under the influence, requested that ground units be sent “code 3.” The airship continued to follow the suspect as he slowly went south on Scott, then turned onto Sixth St., then down Reese Pl.
The first police car to arrive got behind the suspect vehicle on Reese at Tulare Ave. When the officer attempted to pull the car over, the suspect did not stop. Instead, he turned south on Glenoaks Blvd., and began driving at approximately 50 mph. As he drove even faster southbound on Glenoaks, the suspect ran through several red lights. When he got to Cypress Ave., he turned right and went to Third St. Turning left, he continued on Third St. to Olive Ave., passing by the police station on his way.
Once on Olive Ave., the suspect sped over the Olive bridge, through the busy intersection with Victory Blvd. Turning onto Verudgo from Olive, the man nearly hit another vehicle in the intersection. Speeding down Verdugo past Memorial Field, the suspect turned north on Buena Vista St.
Speeding up Buena Vista, the driver quickly reached the Golden State Freeway, where he entered the freeway and headed north at a high rate of speed. Several Burbank Police units were close behind him as the chase continued up the freeway to the 118 Ronald Reagan Freeway. The Pasadena PD helicopter was overhead tracking him, as were the television news helicopters. The suspect continued driving to the very edge of the San Fernando Valley, exiting the freeway at Rocky Peak, then getting back on the freeway heading back eastbound.
Driving at speeds estimated at over 120 mph., the driver swerved in an out of light traffic as he headed back to the Golden State Freeway. Still speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, the driver transitioned from the Golden State Freeway to the southbound 170 Freeway. At this point the California Highway Patrol (CHP) took over the pursuit from the five Burbank units that were behind the Mercedes.
In a rather strange move, the driver stopped on the freeway at Burbank Blvd. off-ramp. As the CHP and Burbank units stopped behind waiting for the man to surrender, he unexpectedly sped off again, heading towards the southbound 101 Hollywood Freeway. Once on the 101 he encountered heavy traffic. Undeterred bu the traffic, he continued to speed along in the emergency lane next to the center divider. Just past Barham Blvd. the suspect either stuck the rear of another car or the center divider, causing major damage to the left front wheel of the Mercedes. Amazingly, even with the wheel turned sideways, the driver was able to steer the car and continue on.
By the time he exited the freeway at the Highland off-ramp near the Hollywood Bowl, smoke was coming from the left front tire. When the suspect turned eastbound on Franklin Ave. the metal wheel was leaving a trail of sparks. As he approached Vine St. at a high rate of speed, the suspect sideswiped at least two oncoming vehicles, sending one SUV onto its side. Fortunately, the occupants, including a 3 year-old, were not seriously injured.
After the collisions with the other vehicles, the Mercedes finally came to a stop on Franklin near Vine, where the freeway crosses overhead. When the suspect did not follow commands to exit his vehicle, CHP officers approached the passenger side of the car. As a precaution, in case the driver tried to drive away, they placed a spike strip under the car to puncture the rear tires. Finally, one officer pulled the suspect from the vehicle. The driver appeared to land on the spike strip. He was taken into custody without further incident. The pursuit had lasted just over one hour.
The driver, identified as 29 year-old Vardan Aslanyan of Hollywood, was transported to L.A. County/USC Medical Center. Two Burbank officers accompanied him. Later that evening, Burbank Police were still waiting for Aslanyan to be cleared medically, so that he could be transported to the Burbank Jail and be booked for a long list of charges.
When the Watch Commander at the station was asked how much Aslanyan’s bail amount might be, he stated, “Very high!”