A Sherman Oaks man who led police on a 2 1/2-hour chase in a tow truck he borrowed from a friend was free on bail today.
Ambartsum Sarkisyan, 31, was released from the Los Angeles Police Department's Valley Jail in Van Nuys just after midnight after posting $50,000 bail and is due in court on May 15, according to sheriff's department online booking records.
He led police on a meandering chase that began about 4:25 p.m. Tuesday near Magnolia and Woodman avenues in Sherman Oaks after he got into a dispute with an officer at the scene of a traffic collision involving other vehicles, Los Angeles police Officer Karen Rayner said.
Sarkisyan did not appear intent on escaping as he drove at modest speeds, appearing to observe traffic laws. He drove into Studio City, North Hollywood, Hollywood and Glendale, where the chase ended after he stopped the truck, got out and surrendered to Glendale police.
He was booked for assault with a deadly weapon -- the truck -- on an officer, Rayner said. But police did not immediately detail how Sarkisyan used the vehicle to try to harm the officer.
The wrecker had been loaned to Sarkisyan by a friend, Rayner said. It belongs to Lake Forest-based Portola Towing, which is affiliated with AAA.
A witness who said she saw the initial collision said Sarkisyan was questioned by police, who asked to see his paperwork, which he didn't have. The officer appeared calm but the driver was becoming more and more upset, she said; he apparently was trying to respond to the collision as an auto club driver.
Sarkisyan wended his way from the San Fernando Valley into Hollywood in the first hour of the chase and was driving east on Los Feliz Boulevard, but once he went past the Golden State (5) Freeway, he saw officers ahead who apparently planned on stopping him with a spike strip. He then made a U-turn and drove back into Hollywood.
The truck's 15,000-pound weight would have made it a difficult candidate for a PIT maneuver.
At one point, the suspect pulled alongside an NBC4 van and had a conversation with a reporter. He said he was not going to hurt anybody and that police were trying to give him a ticket even though he had done nothing wrong.
The chase drew numerous Twitter comments from viewers who watched it on television.