WEST SACRAMENTO, CA - A 31-year-old homeless man was hit and killed by a West Sacramento police vehicle that was chasing a 17-year-old suspected car thief Tuesday night.
The Yolo County coroner identified the victim on Wednesday as Brandon Louis Nickolas of West Sacramento.
A West Sacramento police officer chased the teen suspect eastbound West Capitol Avenue around 8:30 p.m. and called for backup, Lt. Tod Sockman said.
A second officer, who joined the pursuit with lights and sirens turned on in the patrol car, was a ways behind the first officer and the suspect.
Sockman said the second officer hit the pedestrian between Pine Street and Harbor Boulevard on West Capitol Avenue and split the victim's body in half. That officer was also injured and taken to a nearby hospital.
Sockman said the victim was wearing dark clothing and had been living in the area for awhile.
Neighbors heard the crash and saw the morbid scene. They said the pedestrian's shoe was found in one part of the road and his body was split from the impact.
"I heard a loud boom and I wanted to come run and look; my boyfriend was like 'no,' he just came from walking over there and he said there's a dead body over there," neighbor Salina Rangel said.
"The West Sac PD hit a guy and dragged his top half down the street cause his bottom half was right there," neighbor Folaji said.
Meantime, the alleged car thief continued to drive for nearly three miles when he hit a parked car on the 1900 block of Maryland Avenue near 19th Street.
Sockman said the owner of the car chased after the teen, jumped over a few fences, and tackled him a block away on Acorn Court and Park Boulevard. The man held the teen until police officers arrived and arrested him.
Neighbors said West Capitol Avenue near Pine and Harbor Boulevard is dark and dangerous. There are no lights or crosswalks for pedestrians.
The officer who hit the man has been with the police department six years and has been placed on paid administrative leave, Sockman said on Wednesday.
The California Highway Patrol was handling the investigation.