Did LAPD Sgt. Arturo Yanez Help Cover Up a Hit and Run?

For those of you unfamiliar with local geography, Yanez's story goes something like this. Sometime in the evening of July 26th, someone stole her car from the family driveway. They then drove 16 miles soutwest to Gardena where they hit Jesse Dotson and left him laying in the street. They then turned around and drove 16 miles back to Huntington Park where they lef the car just blocks from her parent's house. Image via ##https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=El+Sereno+Street+and+Vermont,+Gadena+CA&daddr=hUNTINGTON+PARK,+CA&hl=en&sll=34.020479,-118.411732&sspn=0.582773,1.234589&geocode=FTYgBQIdlxby-CHOF9C9NmLEHimtUticTrTCgDHOF9C9NmLEHg%3BFfGEBgIdUAf0-CmFxTlWMMnCgDEM1T-RTM8_TA&mra=ls&t=m&z=12##Google Maps##

The sad story of Jesse Dotson, the army veteran and postal worker killed by a hit and run driver after a July 26 crash, would not have be a major news story without the potential involvement of an LAPD Sargent in a cover-up.

Jesse Dotson

Gardena police believe that 22 year old Vanessa Yanez was the driver who struck Dotson at 9:50 pm that fatal evening. Four hours later, Yanez called her local police in Huntington Park to report her car had been stolen and was found, heavily damaged, just a couple of blocks from her house. Yanez lives with her father, LAPD Sgt. Arturo Yanez, who also owns the car.

On July 29th, the same day Dotson died from his wounds, the officer investigating the “stolen car” in Huntington Park tipped off the Gardena police about the coincidence. The car was parked in the Yanez’s driveway.

On July 3, Yanez turned herself in to the police in Gardena, a surrender brokered by her lawyer. She admitted she had been drinking the night of the crash, but insisted her car was stolen and she was not driving it.

She is charged with felony hit and run, falsifying a police report, perjury, and vehicular manslaughter. Bail was set at $100,000, but she was released after signing a statement saying she would appear in court. The Gardena investigator, Lt. Steve Prendegast said such an arrangement is common when a suspect is cooperating.

Which seems a little odd, considering he believes she ran from a crime scene after killing someone and lied to the police about it.

The trial is likely to begin in October or later. The police need time to gather evidence and present their case to the District Attorney. It will take a month for DNA testing that is being completed on the car itself.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Yanez is a new black eye for the LAPD, who is already under fire for a somewhat lax attitude about its city’s hit and run epidemic. Sgt. Yanez is either painfully incompetent or aided and abetted his daughter’s perjury, false police report and bungled cover-up. Adding to his incompetence/deceitfulness, he basically assaulted an ABC7 camera crew trying to question his daughter on the way out of the police station. His tough guy posturing and bullying is the face of LAPD at its most entitled and arrogant.

At this point, Prendegast has not announced charges for Sgt. Yanez, and say he is not under investigation. However, if they uncover evidence that he was involved in a cover-up, he will be charged as well. At the same time, the LAPD is launching its own internal affairs
investigation into the Yanez case, a public show that the department isn’t happy with how Yanez’s actions reflect on them.

The launch of an LAPD investigation is one of the few pieces of good news in the story. Whatever one thinks of the Department’s record on hit and run crashes, we do know they hate cover-ups. It was just two years ago that a father got a small measure of jail time for hiding his daughter’s killing of a bicyclist. While they lack jurisdiction to arrest Yanez, at a minimum they can make sure he’s fired with prejudice, and doesn’t receive the city pension he “earned” over the last three decades. At a maximum, they can turn over whatever they find to their counterparts in Gardena.

Meanwhile, Jesse Dotson’s family is mourning and trying to move on. The grandfather and husband will not be coming home, the afterlife doesn’t set bail and then just let you walk back to where you started. As you might expect, they’re pretty angry about the cover-up and Yanez’s freedom, however temporary it turns out to be.

  • lucy sanchez

    Iknw yanes from were I grow up he’s a great police man and a very good family friend .and I don’t think he would help cover something like this

  • calwatch

    Even the best family friends can have secrets. Unless you are with them 24/7 you may never really know someone. Fortunately with modern technology (cell phone GPS tracking and text messaging subpoenas) the authorities can reconstruct the record and put a narrative behind this.

  • FB

    They don’t even live in HP and you have Your whole attention grabbing paragraph about that. You call yourself a journalist or is this more of a social media post?

  • Anonymous

    A man is dead. I don’t trust LAPD to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation. The Feds should get involved. Bicyclists are basically treated as disposable people and second-class citizens. It appears you can kill a cyclist and walk. That mentality must end. Those who kill bicyclists must be put into jail.

  • Nathanael

    The problem is that this is just one in a very, very long string of “LAPD acts like they are above the law” incidents. People don’t respect the LAPD because it has done everything in its power to not be respectable. So people will assume the worst.

    In order to start getting the benefit of the doubt, LAPD needs to behave far better than average citizens for a decade or more, to earn some trust.

  • The Knowing One

    basically YES he absolutely did. I happen to know.

  • Jon

    The original reports were that witnesses said an older hispanic male with gray hair was driving the car. That would be the owner Sergeant Yanez take a look at the video. A month for DNA evidence? Really? And the car was “recovered” by a police officer and safely returned home. Probably not a lot of evidence left. Where is justice? This is so obvious. This will need the full power of the media to bring Jesse’s killer to justice. Help this family, Jesse may not be a high figure politician but he was a quiet good man and DESERVES justice!!

  • Paul

    Sgt. Yanez appears to be willing to resort to forcefull thug-like tactics in attempts to protect his seemingly guilty daughter. My condolences to the victim’s family. I’ll be following this one closely.

  • quackatit

    And you would “happen” to know how????????????????

  • Dot2

    Would you?It sounds like you are talking about my dad when you say “a good family friend. My dad is a good man. Why not stop ?

  • c turn

    She should have been arrested and held until trial she lied admitted to drinking and driving falsified a police report what more do you need to lock her ass up and her dad need to let her take responsibility of what she did if it had been his child he would have wanted justice Jesse was my friend and co-worker and I just don’t think it’s right praying for the family R.I.P. Jesse

  • JusticePeace22

    Neither of you people or this journalist knows what they are talking about. The journalist wasn’t there to make such accusations. If you look at all reports. Yanez made the call to her parents after the fact and lied about what happen not only to the police but to her parents and they guided her from there. My condolences to the family of the victim. I believe all cyclists need to have protective gear and be in site of a vehicle as well as the driver being aware and looking out for anyone walking, driving or riding a bike. I know the area very well and it’s not lit up and very dark through out the night. I don’t know how many times people in general get distracted while driving and almost hit something or are out of their lane etc. My point is an accident happened, a person lost his life. And young Yanez, someone who has never hurt a soul in her life with a clean record, has to live with this for the rest of hers. Such a horrible tragedy. And I am praying for both the Dotson family and young Yanez as well. I say let the investigators etc. Do their jobs.

  • El Barto

    NONE of your points matter and they do not address the CRIME that was committed of leaving the scene of a collision. Regardless of the easily mitigatable circumstances – darkness, visibility etc…

    Young Ynaz was old enough to know that she fucked up. Her father was smart enough to know she was lieing or one would hope a trained experienced police officer would be. Ynaz needs to do some time and community service to really think about what she did. That’s the final effin sayso.

  • Tam

    I was actually in the courtroom today for a completely different matter as Yanez’s case was heard. She was remanded to custody after her original OR Release was terminated. Her bail is set at only $75,000 where her family only has to post 10% of that to have her released. I have a close family member that was arrested for burglarizing an empty home in the city of Torrance and his bail was $152,000…REALLY??? So tell me whats the going rate on Human Life??? Not speculating on the case but more so on our Justice System!!

  • Bill Hamilton

    Do you have any reason at all to believe that the cyclist was riding unsafely? I doubt it, because you failed to present one, and because of that please take this constructive advice: whenever you feel distracted or fatigued while driving, remember this case and remind yourself your negligence might cause a fatality. And rationalizing it as an “accident” will not mitigate the consequences unless there are actual mitigating facts. Believe me, that thought helps to focus your attention.


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