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Questions over police firing at chase suspect in rush-hour traffic; investigation launched [Updated]

Multiple investigations were launched Tuesday into the actions of Burbank police officers who tried to stop a high-speed pursuit by firing at the suspect while they were stopped in rush-hour traffic Monday.

Officials said they are looking at the tactics used by the officers, who fired at the suspect on two occasions during the wild chase.

Of biggest concern is one officer's decision to fire into the suspect's SUV while he was in the middle of traffic on Barham Boulevard near the 101 Freeway. The officer, whose name was not released, was standing to the side of the suspect's vehicle.

The driver tried to pull away from stopped traffic in the direction of the officer, who fired at least one shot.

One expert who reviewed the tape for The Times said he was concerned because the shots could have hit motorists in surrounding cars. Geoffrey P. Alpert, professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said the tape doesn't tell whole story, but it raises questions about tactics.

"It appears that they failed to take tactical advantage as they approached the suspect, therefore putting officer and, perhaps, civilian lives at risk," Alpert said. He added "There may be more facts beyond what can be seen in the video that would justify the use of deadly force."

That shot by the officer didn't hit the suspect, 30-year-old Steve Satterly of Wabash Ind., who proceeded to drive to the parking entrance of Universal City. He tried to run from officer and was shot and wounded, said Burbank police spokesman Robert Quesada.

Satterly, who was wanted for allegedly stabbing his ex-girlfriend in Indiana, was shot because he was armed with a knife and did not follow orders from officers, Quesada said. "He was armed and dangerous and his actions were threat to society," Quesada said.

"They [the officers] could not allow this guy to escape, especially because he was armed and going towards City Walk." But experts questioned the tactics that led up to the shootings, especially the decision by one of the officers who opened fire at the suspect on Barham.

The pursuit began around 4 p.m. when California Highway Patrol officers in the Cajon Pass spotted a dark-colored Chevy Blazer that had been reported stolen following a stabbing in Indiana. For the better part of an hour, Satterly led police east down the Foothill Freeway and then on to the Ventura Freeway, hitting speeds of up to 100 m.p.h. The chase eventually reached Burbank, where the suspect got off the freeway and began driving on surface streets, leading the CHP to hand off the pursuit to Burbank police officers.

[Updated at 2:30 p.m.: The case is being investigated by the L.A. County district attorney and Burbank police.]

--Andrew Blankstein

Photo: KTLA. Watch video of chase here via KTLA News.

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Comments () | Archives (20)

I saw that thing go down on television. They could have handled it better, but I don't blame the officer for shooting the suspect.

They were well justified to do what they did. I just wish they'd have been better shots. California law enforcement is way too lenient in these situations. Here in the midwest, if you run from the law it is a felony and they use automatic weapons to stop the vehicle.

Burbank P.D. is constantly under investigation. Tell me something I dont know.

Once several years back, I witnessed a Federal law enforcement guy hiding behind a light pole and pointing his gun OVER stopped traffic as a "back up" to another officer who was scuffling with a suspect.

The problem?

The federal guy with the gun near my car was willing to SHOOT over the heads of innocent bystanders who were stuck in traffic.

Every day now I see stupidity on the part of police.

anybody who thinks the police acted stupidly needs to walk a mile in their shoes. this thug was a menace to society as the accusations will prove true i'm sure. can't understand after all these years why there isn't some kind of gadget that can be used to kill the car during a chase. would sure protect the innocent citizens.

Here we go again! Burbank PD investigating itself? A big waste of time and money. Let the DA's office do the investigating!

i remember about 2o years ago i saw a shootout in san jose ca were a officer shot and killed is own partner trying to shoot the suspect. ( bad cross fire )

Shoot now ask questions later. This is the attitude of LAPD at South Central for years and years.

I think they should have kicked him in the face a few times while he was down. I have no sympathy for scum. It's called Street Justice !!

SO WHAT..We live in a world that is NOT perfect. I applaud the COPS.. For take a shot,,MAYBE just maybe the scum victim would have ran over a Kid..THEN WHAT? Thank You, MR and MS. Police.


I was there. My car is just off-screen at the bottom right corner of most of these videos. I was freaked out when I saw the police jump out of their cars and draw their guns, so ducked down below the dashboard top. I therefore didn't witness the actual shooting. But I did hear two gun shots and then glass shatter as helicopters roared overhead. Then the cars took off. I sat up and saw glass all over the asphalt to the left as I pulled forward.

every day now, i read stupid comments from la? residents.

What does "having to walk a mile in their shoes" have to do with excusing the fact that the policeman fired a shot at a suspect with people all around. Bad decisions that can affect innocent civilians by someone who is suppose to be trained in these scenarios does not justify what they did.

Incompetent people exist in all jobs.

As for the "automatic weapons" used to stop a criminal in a crowded area, Jenny, why not use a bomb. I just love your logic.

Let's see... suspect is wanted for attempted murder, and is armed and dangerous... and we shouldn't shoot him when he drives recklessly with a proven disregard for life?

Legal red tape will be the undoing of this society.

If I were a police office I would think seriously about whether it is worth it if my every action is to be so questioned. What happened to the good old days when we appreciated the good guys and condemned the bad guys. We once just wanted our police to protect us and we supported them when they did. I guess now is not a good time for a career change but if the job market ever improves I would be so out of there.

Who said cops are smart?

Stupid cops!! some of you who are justifying that it was ok for the cops to shoot, well I don't think you be saying that if your sitting in traffic and lights go out because you just got shot in the back of the head or if someone was shot i don't think you be saying that the cops need to do what was necessary. That is putting the public in danger not the suspect but the cops for there idiotic actions. Someone could have been hurt/killed then what?

The DA is full of sh#t they aren't going to do anything, they are also the problem, why do you think cops get away with murder, literally.

Burbank PD great job!
you stopped the problem before the situation escalated.

this was a perfect example of poor training and lack of experience, and hopefully the video makes it way to police acadamies as an example of what not to do. thank god no bystanders were struck by bullets. what most people do not realize is that those bullets are not simply stopped by a car door/window or even suspects body and they can bounce, richochet. it is also difficult to aim accurately under those kinds of conditions, even at a close distance. thats why watching what is in the background is EXTREMELY important. and if you look at the video there are tons of bystanders in their vehicles within a few feet in ALL directions. that officer clearly had tunnel vision. if you made him reenact it, stand police officers in those positions where civilians were in vehicles, and have him look around, at where he was aiming and shooting, if that didnt wake him up then he needs to resign. i say dont fire, but some disciplinary action, plus training on safe weapons tactics for all patrol officers for burbank. that was just plain ridiculous. i dont care if he was new or been there 20 years.

Anyone who is dumb enough to pull this SHOULD be shot by the cops. Isn't this what we pay them for??? Personally, I'm grateful for what these brave men & women do for US everyday.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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