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Police chief hops on suspect's own bike to chase him down

Chief Joe Leonardi was on his post-lunch patrol Thursday 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.

The Redondo Beach police chief returned to his rank-and-file roots on Thursday when he hopped on a bike and chased 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.

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Not only did the chief make the collar on a bike, but the two-wheel contraption was the suspect's getaway vehicle. The man had ditched it while he was fleeing from the cops.

The drama went down after lunch Thursday when Leonardi spotted a 36-year-old transient resembling an assault suspect and riding a dark-colored bicycle, police said.

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

He dropped the bike and ran.

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

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

The man surrendered after officers flooded the area. The man, 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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