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Manhattan Beach police officer pleads not guilty in hit-and-run case

January 19, 2011 |  4:55 pm

A Manhattan beach police officer pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a hit-and-run charge, authorities said.

Richard William Hatten II, 35, is charged with one misdemeanor count of leaving the scene of an accident, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said. An attorney entered the plea on behalf of Hatten, who is expected to be booked Thursday at the East Los Angeles sheriff's station.

The charges stem from an incident last January that resulted in four officers being placed on leave after allegedly failing to report a hit-and-run accident caused by a vehicle registered to Hatten.

Officers arrived at the accident scene and found that the driver suspected of causing the crash had fled. The driver's unoccupied vehicle was found later at a nearby gasoline station, the Manhattan Beach Police Department said in a statement issued shortly after the incident.

The officers conducted a registration check, which showed that the owner was a Manhattan Beach police officer. No report was taken and no arrests were made, the department said.

On Wednesday, the district attorney's office released a charge-evaluation worksheet saying that two officers were passengers in Hatten's car.  The officers violated no laws and did nothing to encourage Hatten to leave his vehicle, according to the report.

"Therefore," the report said, "we are declining to file charges against these individuals."


Manhattan Beach police officers placed on leave amid hit-and-run investigation

-- Robert J. Lopez