Bike-Riding Redondo Beach Police Chief Helps Collar Suspect

Redondo Beach Police Chief Joe Leonardi is credited with collaring a suspect whose bike he jumped on after the man ditched it while fleeing cops

By Samantha Tata and Jason Kandel
|  Sunday, Jul 8, 2012  |  Updated 1:13 PM PDT
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Chief Joe Leonardi was on his post-lunch patrol Thursday around 12:30 p.m. when he saw a man who matched the description of a suspect his officers had been looking for in connection with a July 3 assault.

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The Redondo Beach police chief returned to his rank-and-file roots on Thursday when he hopped on a bike and helped chase down a suspect believed responsible for an assault on a city worker.

Chief Joe Leonardi was credited with catching the man who police believe matched the description of a suspect in a July 3 assault.

“If (the chief) didn’t do something, the guy would have definitely gotten away,” said Sgt. Scott Weibel, with the Redondo Beach Police Department.

Not only did the chief pursue the 36-year-old man on a bike, but the two-wheel contraption had been the suspect's getaway vehicle. The man had ditched the bike while he was fleeing from the cops.

The drama went down after lunch Thursday when Leonardi spotted a transient resembling an assault suspect and riding a dark-colored bicycle, police said. Leonardi called for backup.

After being led through a zigzag maze of streets and alleys, patrol officers caught up with the bicyclist, but he didn’t stop.

He dropped the bike and ran.

It was then that Leonardi -- dressed in suit and tie -- hopped on the bike and pedaled after him.

"I knew I would never catch up," Leonardi said. "So I decided to get on the bike."

The man surrendered after officers flooded the area. The suspect, whose identity was not immediately released, was booked into jail on suspicion of delaying an officer’s investigation and possession of stolen property, police said.

Police were investigating the man’s connection to a July 3 assault and a burglary of a Hermosa Beach home.

The bike was booked into evidence.

Police also found a stolen Cal Poly San Luis Obispo class ring that they say was tossed by the suspect during the pursuit.

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