LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The driver of a dump truck that collided with an LAPD cruiser in Beverly Hills last year, killing a veteran training officer, has pleaded not guilty to one felony count of gross vehicular manslaughter.
Roberto Maldonado, a 47-year-old Pacoima resident who owns a dump truck company, was charged in the March 7, 2014, crash that killed Officer Nicholas Choung Lee near Robert Lane and Loma Vista Drive.
An investigation by the California Highway Patrol determined that Maldonado had failed to properly maintain and inspect the truck as required by his carrier permit and that the vehicle’s brakes failed, according to Deputy District Attorney Jack Garden.
Lee, a 16-year veteran of the department, was pronounced dead at the scene. His female partner, who was just three months out of the police academy, was hospitalized overnight.
Lee had worked assignments in the Van Nuys, Wilshire and Hollywood areas for the LAPD. Last year’s funeral service for the 40-year-old officer drew hundreds of mourners, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Jerry Brown.
Maldonado — who is free on $50,000 bond — is due back in a San Fernando courtroom June 10, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
Maldonado’s attorney, Andrew Flier, said of his client, “He has insurance. He did his best to maintain his business truck.”
The defense lawyer said he did not think the case would have been filed the same way, if the victim was not a police officer.
If convicted, Maldonado faces up to six years in state prison.