This time, it really is murder.
A 46-year old bike rider is dead, the innocent victim of a speeding carjacker trying to make his escape through Downtown Los Angeles Saturday morning.
Now police are looking for the car thief and killer, who simply walked away after a second crash.
According to KABC-7, the series of events started when a passing pedestrian asked a newspaper delivery driver for a ride on the 900 block of Wilshire Blvd. When the driver refused, the man jumped into the running pickup while the man was stocking a newsstand.
A flier from the LAPD places the time of the theft as 7:50 am.
Unable to get back into the truck, the delivery driver jumped into the back as the man sped off towards DTLA, then wisely jumped out a few blocks later, tumbling to the ground.
Witnesses saw the carjacker careening through the streets, weaving from side to side at a high rate of speed while driving on the wrong side of the roadway.
After turning onto eastbound 7th Street, he slammed into a man who was riding east just before 7th and Olive Street.
However, according to the police flier, the victim riding against traffic in the westbound bike lane — which means the driver rear-ended him while all the way on wrong side of the street.
The victim landed on the hood of the truck, and was carried nearly 100 feet before being thrown off, then tumbled another 150 feet before coming to a rest at Hill Street, a full block from where he was hit.
KTLA-5 reports friends of the victim identified him as Branden Finley, a member of the Ride for Black Lives group; he was reportedly on his way to join a group ride when he was killed.
Paramedics attempted without luck to revive him, before declaring Finley dead at the scene.
Meanwhile, the driver continued east on 7th until he crashed into a pair of vehicles and took off on foot, melting away on the Downtown streets.
Bizarrely, he was walking barefoot and carrying a steering wheel, presumably from the truck he stole.
He was described as a Black man around 5 foot 6 inches tall and 150 to 160 pounds, and may have suffered a head injury from hitting his head on the windshield.
The suspect was last seen wearing a white hoodie and black pants, after removing the blue hoodie he was originally wearing.
As always, there is a standing $50,000 reward for any fatal hit-and-run in the City of Los Angeles.
Anyone with information is urged to contact LAPD Detective Juan Campos at 213/833-3713, or e-mail hm at firstname.lastname@example.org. During weekends and off-hours, call 1-877/527-3247.
This is at least the fifth bicycling fatality in Southern California this year, and the first that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County and the City of LA.
Three of those deaths have been the result of hit-and-runs.
Update: The LA County coroner has confirmed the victim’s identity as Branden Finley, a 46-year old father of two.
“I still don’t even think it’s real. I feel like it’s a dream. Right now, it’s a nightmare, and I feel tomorrow I’m going to wake up and this day will never exist,” his daughter, Koi Finley, told ABC7.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Branden Finley and his loved ones.