Police pursuit ends in fatality, suspect arrested (updated)

Brian Vance Coleman, 33, faces an array of criminal charges including murder and vehicular manslaughter after his involvement in a fatal vehicle pursuit Sunday evening. The deadly crash came to an end just outside of Claremont borders.

Charges filed by the District Attorney Tuesday morning, July 31, assert that Mr. Coleman may have been under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance during the time of the pursuit and fatal collision, according to Claremont Detective David DeMetz.

“Everything is preliminary,” Det. DeMetz said in an interview following the preliminary hearing Tuesday. “We do not have the [toxicology] results yet.”

In addition to murder and vehicular manslaughter, Mr. Coleman faces charges of driving under the influence causing injury, evasion of a police officer causing death, leaving the scene of an accident and stealing a vehicle with a prior conviction.

Claremont police arrested Mr. Coleman Sunday night after a crash that killed another driver at the intersection of Towne and La Verne Avenues in Pomona.

The devastating chain of events began near the intersection of Towne Avenue and Arrow Highway around 5:40 p.m. Claremont police officers received a hit on the truck driven by Mr. Coleman, indicating that it had been stolen out of Rancho Cucamonga. Mr. Coleman failed to stop for officers, leading them in a brief pursuit traveling south on Towne. Failing to stop at a red light at Towne and La Verne avenues, Mr. Coleman broadsided another car in the middle of the intersection, according to a statement by Claremont Lieutenant Mike Ciszek. The driver in the broadsided vehicle was killed. The Los Angeles County Coroner identified the man Monday afternoon as Jesus Bugarin Mercado, 54, of Pomona.

Mr. Coleman crashed into a tree shortly after the initial collision and ,though he attempted to flee on foot, was arrested and turned over to Claremont police. Mr. Coleman was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries and later booked at the Claremont Police Department. Mr. Bugarin Mercado died at the scene, according to Claremont Lieutenant Shelly Vander Veen.

Claremont police will continue to handle the criminal investigation as the Pomona Police Department’s Major Accident Investigation Team investigates the fatal traffic collision. An arraignment was expected Tuesday afternoon, but a court date had not been set as of press time.

—Beth Hartnett



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