GARDENA (CBSLA.com) — The 22-year-old daughter of a veteran Los Angeles police sergeant has been released after being arrested in connection with the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist.
Vanessa Marie Yanez had been booked on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, perjury, filing a false report, and felony hit and run in the death of 60-year-old Jesse Dotson at Vermont Avenue and El Segundo on June 26, according to Gardena police Lieutenant Steve Prendergast.
Lt. Prendergast is part of Gardena’s Traffic Division, which has taking charge of the investigation.
Vanessa Yanez is the daughter of LAPD Sgt. Arturo Yanez, a veteran on the force of over 30 years. Even though the investigation is directed toward Vanessa Yanez, her father owns the vehicle involved in the fatal collision, and has been interviewed by detectives.
“If we find that he or any other member of the family aided and abetted Vanessa after the accident, we will be pursuing criminal charges against that person,” Prendergast said.
Sgt. Yanez, according to published reports, has become the subject of a LAPD Internal Affairs investigation as to any part he may have taken in the aftermath of the fatal hit-and-run.
Yanez has also been involved in a fiery confrontation with an ABC7 News crew, and is seen on tape aggressively trying to block the crew’s efforts to get footage of his daughter after she was released.
The case’s breakthrough, ironically, came after Vanessa filed a police report with the Huntington Park police, alleging that her car had been stolen, according to police.
Yanez’s vehicle struck Dotson’s bike around 9:50 p.m. on June 26, and Dotson was declared dead at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center three days later.
Vanessa filed a stolen car report with the Huntington Park police at about 1:50 a.m. the following morning.
“She reported it stolen and said it was found parked down the street and had suffered some kind of traffic collision damage,” Prendergast said.
The following day, when media reports about the incident began to appear, the officer who took the report felt that the details of the report and description of the vehicle seemed to match, and he called Gardena police to tip them off.
Prendergast suggested that the damage to the vehicle seemed to match a hit-and-run accident with Dotson, and arrangements were subsequently made through her attorney for Vanessa Yanez to turn herself in to Gardena police, which she did on July 3.
Despite evidence, Vanessa Yanez is insisting that her car was stolen, although it was reportedly found a few blocks away from her family’s home, according to Prendergast.
Yanez had admitted to a Huntington Park police officer that she had been drinking earlier in the day, but Prendergast suggests that, since it was a hit-and-run, she was not stopped or given a sobriety test. Therefore, there is no proof that she was driving under the influence when the collision occurred.
Los Angeles County jail records suggest Vanessa Yanez’s bail was set at $100,000. However, Prendergast said she had been released without posting bail after police took her signed promise to appear in court.
“We are waiting for results to come back on DNA and fibers and other forensic evidence,” Prendergast said.
He also indicated that the procedure was not unusual, and that it had nothing to do with her being the daughter of a police sergeant.
“We have done it with other cases, when the person being involved is fully compliant and cooperative with our investigation,” he said. “And besides, she has a lawyer who we’ve been dealing with.”
Yanez has a tentative court date, but Prendergast said that it may take over a month to get the forensic test results back, so the date of her arraignment may likely be delayed.
Anyone with more information about the hit-and-run death was asked to call Investigator Matt Hassoldt at (310) 217-6189.