Residents in Sunset Park awoke to the sound of gunfire in the early morning hours of May 18. The incident resulted in one Santa Monica Police officer shot and a nearly four-hour search for the suspect that ended in more gunfire slightly before dawn.
At approximately 1:40 a.m., the yet-to-be identified 16-year veteran officer of the Santa Monica Police observed a black, late model Nissan Pathfinder driving “erratically” northbound on Lincoln Boulevard. The officer, suspecting the driver was under the influence, conducted a routine traffic stop at the intersection of Lincoln Boulevard and Bay Street – one block South of Pico Boulevard.
With backup on the scene, officers were giving field sobriety tests to the driver when the passenger fled the SUV, gun drawn and firing. Officers returned fire, but the veteran was struck in the abdomen by a bullet from the suspect: Dante Glenn Leverette, a black, 32-year-old from Los Angeles, who then fled the scene on foot.
SMPD established a perimeter and called in the department’s S.W.A.T. Team and K-9 units who responded to the scene to search for the suspect. Mutual aid was requested from surrounding police agencies. Officers from Beverly Hills, Culver City, Inglewood, El Segundo, Gardena, California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles Police Department responded to assist.
For nearly four hours, officers scoured the area aided by a police search helicopter. At approximately 5:10 a.m., SMPD officers located the suspect “hunkered down” in the alley parallel to where the initial traffic stop occurred. Reports indicate that officers shot Leverette because he confronted them and the K-9 units. Leverette was taken to a local hospital for non-life threatening injuries from the K-9 contact and wounds received from the gunshots.
The veteran officer’s injury were described as non-life threatening. SMPD officials said his identity will be made public once he is released from the hospital. The driver of the vehicle, a white, 46-years-old male from Ohio, was taken into custody after the initial incident but was later released as an uninvolved party with no charges. He was described as “cooperative” throughout the incident.
Leverette is expect to be arrested and booked for attempted homicide after he is released from the hospital. He was described as having a “significant criminal history” which included a substantial juvenile record not available to the public. The criminal investigation is being handled by the SMPD’s Robbery/Homicide Unit. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Officer Involved Shooting Team is assisting in the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Michael Bambrick at 310.458.8932 or Sergeant Ira Rutan at 310.458.8959 or the police department (24 hours) 310.458.8426.