Mark McDermott

Police officer injured in traffic stop

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HBPD officer Anthony Parente flew into the backseat of the vehicle he was attempting to pull over last Tuesday. The photo, courtesy of the RBPD, was taken by an eyewitness on a cell phone.

by Mark McDermott

Police are investigating whether or not a collision between a Hermosa Beach motorcycle patrol officer and a driver on Artesia Boulevard in Redondo Beach was an accident or an intentional assault.

Officer Anthony Parente, a 12-year veteran of the Hermosa Beach Police Department, escaped serious injury but spent the night in a hospital after being thrown from his motorcycle and into the backseat of a BMW convertible he was attempting to pull over for a traffic violation on the 1100 block of Artesia. The incident occurred at about 6 p.m. on June 8.

Police did not release the identity of the driver of the BMW, nor reveal his alleged traffic violation. Detectives are still searching for eyewitnesses to determine what exactly happened in the course of the traffic stop.

“We haven’t drawn any conclusions at this point,” said Lt. Joe Hoffman, head of the Redondo Beach Police Department investigations division. “At the time of the collision, we sent traffic investigators and detectives so we could investigate everything from every possible angle. At this time, we have not made a determination if this was a traffic accident or an intentional act.”

Hoffman said that if the collision is found to have been intentional, the driver would likely face a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

“This could have absolutely have had catastrophic consequences,” Hoffman said. “[The officer] did receive some injuries, but things absolutely could have been worse.”

Hoffman noted that one of the greatest hazards officers frequently face is on traffic stops.

“You hear the term routine traffic stop, but really there are no routine stops,” Hoffman said. “Every single one is different and inherently dangerous for a multitude of reasons – passing traffic, the surroundings, or it could be someone that you are pulling over who does not want to go to jail. Police officers never really know what they are getting when the make a traffic stop.”

A Daily Breeze account of the incident drew a response from a man who may have been the driver. According to the Breeze story, a man named Brian Hitchcock originally contacted the paper offering a different version of events. “If you plan to print this despicable piece of calumny and call it ‘news,’ be prepared to defend it,” Hitchcock reportedly wrote.

According to the paper, Hitchcock subsequently declined comment at his wife’s insistence but issued a version of the story that included third-person descriptions of the collision. “The driver of the car may have been scared out of his wits when officer Parente fired up his siren at point-blank range,” Hitchcock reportedly wrote. “…The driver of the car, with 41 years experience, appeared stunned by the sudden intrusion of the officer landing behind him. It is not known whether he was injured by the flying officer.”

Hoffman said the story generated a few more eyewitness accounts. Police have set up a tip line, an email, and text number in hopes of generating more information.

“We know there were a lot of cars passing by when this incident happened,” Hoffman said. “If any people have anything they can possibly share – even if they don’t think it is significant, it might be a missing piece of the puzzle we need, and we are asking they please provide that information.”

Phone messages can be left at 310-937-2362, emails can be directed to crimetips@redondo.org, and texts at 310-339-2362. ER

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